by Saso ORDANOSKI
The story regarding Kosovo is pretty simple. In the next 5-10 years this Yugoslav province will not become an independent state. But, work will be done to increase its autonomy, build institutions that, in time, would replace international structures that operate in Kosovo. All current participants in the Kosovo politics will be invited to contribute to this process. Those who turn out to be uncooperative, one way or another, will be eliminated from the political future of Kosovo.
In parallel, the rest of the region will be addressed in several phases, that cover the next ten years.
The second phase implies development of a meaningful regional dialog, with the implementation of regional integration agreements envisaged in the European integration process.
The Stability Pact, which is expected to enter a renaissance after the appointment of a new coordinator early next year (since Bodo Hombach, after the end of his tenure, at the end of this year, will leave), is supposed to be the political and economic instrument for pushing the developments in the desired direction in both of the above mentioned two phases.
Finally, in ten years, according to the European vision, which was carefully described to this journalist in one of important European capitals, the third phase will follow. In the third phase, in the conditions of greater political maturity and different situation some status-related issues of the existing Balkan countries, including the status of Kosovo, will be resolved.
In this context, given our local, Macedonian reality, during the last month I requested on several occasions to be explained how each one of these three phases will address the status of Macedonia. The international coordination is unanimous regarding this issue. In Washington, Brussels, Berlin, Paris and London (yes, I made effort to check everywhere, personally, directly and indirectly) they were unanimous in their determination that any division of Macedonia is out of question, "regardless of the efforts of your current Prime Minister" (this is a literal quote of a senior European diplomat who requested to remain anonymous). Bad news for gentlemen Ljupco Georgievski, Stojan Andov and Daut Haradinaj. Given the clear view of the Moscow (openly stated by Putin during the two most recent meetings with Trajkovski) that, as far as Macedonia is concerned, Russia will under no circumstances risk a conflict with the West, the list of influential factors from abroad ends. Such a plan of the European Union comes as a result of the realization that European Union must take initiative in the Balkans after the withdrawal of Americans to "the background" in the region. This relative withdrawal, on the other hand, is the result of the realization that, finally, current Balkan conflicts do not have the potential, even in the long term, to provoke a clash of old "cold-war" rivals, Russia and the USA. If there is any consolation for our Prime Minister, the role of the American special envoy Purdue in the resolution of the crisis in Macedonia is mostly criticized in Europe. On the other hand, Macedonian partners in Europe are truly outraged by every mention of Minister Boskovski and president of the Parliament Andov. It's unpleasant for the ears...
The first on the list are members of the internal opposition in the ruling political structures. They are mostly young, but politically mature people with "autonomous" political views "that haven't been influenced from abroad". In the coming years and months Europe will make an effort to encourage these politicians and activists to be more courageous and publicly articulate their views. It seems that, after practicing this approach during the last few years in Serbia, which resulted in spectacular political changes in our neighbor to the north, Europe is prepared to apply this model elsewhere in the Balkans, and especially in Macedonia, with patience and clear strategy.
The civil society, in the wider sense of that term, will be second on the list for assistance. The assistance will be especially forthcoming in some traditional spheres, such as fight against corruption, and strengthening of the role of politically active non-governmental organizations.
The third target of this new-old strategy are the media in Macedonia, in which we can expect a more strict approach in evaluation of the contribution to the responsible and politically independent journalism.
Finally, the list ends with increased interest that will be dedicated to the political activities in local administration, as a part of the efforts to dethrone highly concentrated and corrupt central authorities and bring political agenda closer to the interest of ordinary citizens.
On the other hand, the European Union is deeply involved in its internal discussion regarding the perspectives of its functioning after the enlargement with six to seven new members from Eastern and Central Europe. The claims that the Union would become unwieldy are equally prominent as those of the opposite sort. The main issue is that of state interests and every state measures what it is likely to gain and what to lose with the new expansion.
The process of the development of the European defense identity has already started and the creation of a standing European army with 60,000 soldiers, always ready for intervention in solution of security crises in Europe and elsewhere is reaching final phases. The current, most important, "brake" is whether a totally independent European command-operational structure will be developed, outside the NATO, or whether NATO command-operational capacity will be used. Among other, Turkey is threatening to veto use of NATO facilities unless its integration in the EU is speeded up. However, there is no doubt that even that dimension of the EU will reach its final shape in the coming decade.
Therefore, the whole process will again depend on the readiness of the inhabitants of the Balkans, and the initiative of their (we hope) new political leaders to apply themselves to the process of their own regeneration and prosperity. As the crisis in Afghanistan demonstrated, the Balkans does not have a privileged status in international relations and cannot forever count on attention and good will from abroad. "Great, at least they will leave us alone," small Balkan Ljupco Georgievskis will probably say. However, we already know tragic consequences of that story, since in the past years we were unable to come out from under the "tailcoats" of our bad politicians and their megalomaniac ideas and actions.
Perhaps, Europe is not always the best, most just or most efficient partner we could hope for. But it is the only one that has so far extended a helping hand.