by Ljubco GEORGIEVSKI
Accession of new countries to the NATO in the Prague and the addition of new members to the European Union in Copenhagen, differences between the US and largest European states, will almost certainly be "paid" by Balkan countries; the statement of the president of the European Parliament Pat Cox that the process of addition of new members to the EU should stop in 2007; recent analysis of the president of the "European Stability Initiative" Gerald Knaus, who explained in his analysis something that we have already known, that the European map in the part regarding the decreasing differences in economic development and the plan for social cohesion of the EU does not include the Western Balkans; in other words, there will be very little economic assistance. Finally, the assassination of the Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic stands on the top of this iceberg. Regarding the political stability in the region, the recent assassination of probably the most important businessman in the Balkans, Ilija Pavlov, is also of great importance. Regardless of the motives of criminals who killed Djindjic, in my opinion this assassination is an act that will cause very serious political consequences for the stability of the new state, Serbia-Montenegro, as well as the rest of the region.
During the last few months I have followed with much attention the policies of my former colleague and friends, whom I mentioned in one of my columns. I have no doubt that in the last period Djindjic, perhaps as his swan song, played a brilliant chess game full of pragmatism, taking into account the true national interests of Serbia. He moved the "Kosovo problem" totally to the court of the international community. He made his moves so quickly and so efficiently that the international structures were unable to follow. He advocated a quick resolution of the status of Kosovo. In practice he offered several ways of getting out of the current lethargy and accelerating collapse of Serbia. Several proposals were made: cantonization of Kosovo, asymmetric Kosovo, division of Kosovo. His moves came one after another so quickly that we watched an unbelievable scene: Djindjic was offering the division and lasting solution of the Kosovo problem, while Kosovo politicians kept saying that it was still too early to resolve the final status of Kosovo! Unfortunately, the murder of this pragmatic politician will block Serbian initiative for a long time to come, and will most likely turn Serbian politicians into silent observers of the kind we have so many already in the Balkans.
I mentioned the events listed above only as a tip of the iceberg that is hiding under the surface of the water since 9/11. Besides, no one need be reminded about the events that took place in the Balkans over the last 12 years. There is even less need to discuss the origin of the term balkanization (recently, I was surprised to hear Yasir Arafat saying in a documentary film that he feared balkanization of Palestine?!).
For twelve years we have witnessed bloody wars and crises: an uprising in Romania, another one in Bulgaria, civil war in Albania, war in Croatia, in Bosnia-Hercegovina, NATO intervention against Yugoslavia, aggression of Kosovo on Macedonia, unresolved ethnic problems, open political issues, three big agreements that, according to me, are essentially ceasefire agreements, rather than lasting solutions: the Dayton Agreement for Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kumanovo Agreement for Kosovo and Serbia and the Ohrid Agreement.
The Western Balkans is now in an unprecedented political situation: there are two Croat states, two Serb states, two and a half Albanian states, three states are institutionally and constitutionally blocked and cannot function. Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia-Montenegro and Macedonia are doomed to political, security and economic decline. Even worse, the diplomats from abroad also welcome the Balkans as a sort of a garbage can and, lacking better answers, keep telling their voters that the problem of global corruption, problem of organized crime, problem of prostitution, drugs, arms trade, all originate in the Balkans. Simply, the way we are now we are ideal means for cleansing of conscience of diplomats from abroad, as well as for political and military experiments of all sorts.
Without denying the fact that the residents of the Balkans are also responsible for the current situation, I am one of the politicians who are sufficiently convinced that the international community does include many serious structures that actually welcome the current situation in the Balkans, as their goal is not stabilization but on the contrary the destabilization of the Balkans. Again, without speculating about motivation for the last two murders (Pavlov and Djindjic), one thing is clear today. Balkan has been knocked down, and the Western Balkans knocked out. The Balkans has one more time been thrown into agony from which it hasn't come out in the last 12 years.
In such a situation it is difficult to find an answer for the question of how to proceed, why we have lost 12 years, running in one place. From the current point of view I not only do not see any hope in the coming 12 years, but am convinced that it is likely that the goal of current plans is to push us even deeper in the mud.
After the assassination of Djindjic we must be aware that a tragedy of one country is a tragedy of the whole region. The sinking of one country is the sinking of the whole region. In my opinion, if we want to take at least one step forward, we must as soon as possible resolve the basic political problem, and that is the general political cacophony of the Western Balkans, full of "Quasimodo states", protectorates, semi-protectorates, institutionally blocked states, experiments of all sorts. Therefore, I am convinced that the start of the Balkan agony cannot end without a large international Balkan conference that would discuss two international initiatives that have recently been broached: the Russian initiative - holding of a Balkan conference that should confirm the existing borders, and second, promoted by Lord Owen and a few more Western diplomats - a Balkan conference for the change of borders and creation of ethnically homogenous states.
To make sure there is no confusion, in my opinion the second initiative is much more likely to produce a lasting solution and solve the current agony of the Balkans.