Yesterday, Commissioner Füle, in occasion of the Western Balkan Forum held in Luxembourg, addressed the former Jugoslavian republics on their accession to the EU, defining priorities and welcoming the measures already taken. The complete speech made by DG Enlargment Commissioner can be found here.
The most important pattern noticed by the author of this post is the ease and confidence demonstrated by Commissioner Füle in vaguely defining “corruption and organized crime” as two of the fundamental areas where Montenegro, Serbia and Albania have to show their committment.
It would be of no interest trying to understand whether or not corruption and organized crime exist in those countries and if those two phenomenons are effective or not. A political debate on such bases would lead to a never ending sophistic ping-pong.
A far more interesting approach would be the one encompassing the social and cultural consequences of the way Serbia, Montenegro and Albania intend to “fight” corruption and organized crimes. Avoiding unfruitful diplomatic discourse, is it out of any reasonable doubt that several members of the former governments of those states were somehow related to organized crime and/or were directly involved in pernicious corruptions practices. It is also indubitably true that those practices seems to be somehow accepted in Serbia, Montenegro and Albania. Nothing new till now.
A new approach would be the one trying to define in which cultural environment corruption and organized crime prevailed, managing to become the “rule”, the social value upon which individuals and groups based their actions in order to achieve a variety of objectives, from protection to political power, from economic revenues to cultural rights. Along with this new approach, evidently aimed ad analyze the past, there should be a parallel action the objective of which is to define the cultural elements residing in the Balkans societies which could be used as a leverage for the construction (or better to say the reaffirmation) of more democratic and transparent behaviors.
The easiness by which Commissione Füle addresses the Balkan countries is disturbing, although the aim and the audience to which those recommendations were addressed are clearly noticeable: governments. From a mere political point of view, his message could be also evaluated as an encouraging outstretched hand towards Western Balkans governments (please notice, for instance, the deep understanding of Serbian political contingency regarding elections).
The question arose is whether the social reactions to those affirmations are taken in consideration or not: what the EU is planning to do in order to support those governments to make the EU itself more appealing? Probably nothing, since it is in Balkan governments’ duty. From my small experience, however, statements like the Luxembourg one are surely not welcomed by the majority of Serbians, Montenegrins and Albanian electors.
I am not that sure that Serbia, Montenegro, Albania and even Croatia can cope with the issue of “EU’s popularity” in a reasonable timeframe. The clash of values between the Balkans and the EU may be not so strong as, for example, the one between Turkey and the rest of Europe. History taught us, however, that in Balkans “grey zones” several subtle cultural questions are hidden, the consequences of which are not totally unpredictable, but not even taken in consideration by major international players.
Time could not be “ripe” for a discussion on the differences between EU cultural values and Balkan ones. But time will never be “ripe” without a serious commitment by both parties on the matter.