OPINION

Serbia’s course toward Europe

If the anti-European and anti-West winds blowing through Serbia due to Kosovo’s declaration of independence do not die down soon, as the West hopes, the European Union’s strategy in the Balkans will be threatened with collapse. During the crisis in Yugoslavia, Western European power centers put forward the prospect of EU accession to weak, unstable countries in the region as the cure for their war wounds and as a way of doing away with the ethnic conflicts of the past. They rightly believed that the rapid incorporation of warring sides into European society would erase borders and ethnic rivalries and bring about peace and stability. Meanwhile the region’s beleaguered peoples invested their hopes for a better future in the European vision. Some, such as the Slovenes and Croats, have already entered the «gates of paradise.» However, at the most crucial point since the Dayton accord when the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina was settled, this strategy is being strained to its limits as Serbia is threatened with derailment from its course toward Europe. Serbia is traditionally the most important player in the region; without its consent, any border or ethnic accords are destined to be dragged out over several decades. If Serbia and then Kosovo, join the EU, their differences, at least as they appear today, will no longer have any meaning and, over time, Serbs and ethnic Albanians will be forced to learn to live alongside one other in a country without borders, leaving behind them the bloodshed and hatred that divide them. However, if Belgrade moves away from Europe, that will not bode well for the region, as the climate of doubt and rivalry between Serbian and Albanian nationalists will be perpetuated. So what are the Europeans doing to bring Serbs into the fold? (After all, what the Americans want is to get out of the Balkans as soon as possible.) They are trying to humiliate them, crush them and then tell them to come on in. For example, during the (Serbian) presidential elections when the pro-European bloc fought hard to keep the country on the road to Europe, the Netherlands torpedoed its signing of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, recalling that the arrest of General Mladic, the butcher of Srebrenica, was still pending, with whom, not long before he started his unpleasant labors, its soldiers (though supposedly protecting the civilians) had been drinking champagne at Srebrenica’s gates. So with tactics like these bringing the Serbian nation to its knees, it will be some years before stability can be achieved.