From your own correspondent: time for change

Dear All,

Thank you very much for have followed my (mis)adventures linked to the research for my MA Thesis.

As Abruzzo traditions impose, I have celebrated properly the successful defense of the thesis, which granted me the highest mark: 110/110 cum laude.

This would not have been possible without the support of many professionals, professors and friends who supported me morally. academically, financially and emotionally until the moment I walked the stairs of Gorizia University’s aula magna.

Apart from drinking and eating and dancing, I have also continued my personal researches, trying to follow the possible future outcome of next Serbian elections. My opinion will be out in few days.

Overall, I can confirm that writing my MA thesis resulted in the most satisfying experience I’ve ever had. I said “confirm” because I had the same impression while writing my BA thesis on Montenegro independence. Thus, after attentive scientific experiments, I can corroborate my previous theory with fresh, brand new findings.

Some of you might be interested in the non-emotional, less introversive findings of my MA thesis. Fair. Let me thank you in advance for such curiosity.
As a matter of fact, the outcome of my research might be published soon by a Serbian institution. I will keep you posted. However, from time to time, I will make sure that a selection of arguments exposed in my thesis will be published on this blog, in a brand new section.

So, what’s next?

My eagerness to keep researching will not be stopped by the lack of perspective in the academia, nor for the objective difficulties our generation has to face when it comes to “finding a job”.

It is clear though (as demonstrate by my recent inactivity… I beg your pardon), that the time I will be able to devote to such research can be effected by the weight/mass of my wallet, by the emptiness of my fridge and related emptiness of my stomach. I am not trying to touch you, to make you feel pity for me: personally I don’t like easy challenges. What I really mean is: unite we stand, divided we fall. The Bridge opens its doors to any international relations expert, anthropology aficionado, international law student, European law critics willing to share clever discussions, sleepless writing nights and vivid debates on the topics of this website. The objective is simple: as a very good friend of mine uses to say: “life’s too short to read bad books or stupid news!”, ergo  the goal is to provide impartial, alternative, high-quality commentaries on issues afflicting the Balkans, Europe and their relationship. Honestly, many write about these topics, but very few provide something more than a placid re-interpretation of facts. Apart from “imaginative” ultra-nationalists, of course…

For this reason, I am announcing you that The Bridge is changing. both graphically and content-wise.

I hope that you will keep staying connected to us.
I also hope that many more  of you will actively join, walking a mile with us, on The Bridge.

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From your own correspondent: Pristina

Snow.
Which means wet feet, deadly cold, mud everywhere.

Apart from the white blanket of snow covering Pristina, I was touched also by the news reported on the most important Balkan newspapers.
Apparently, following the withdrawal of Serbs from the barricades in North Kosovo, the Council sent a clear positive message. A “carrot”, if you allow me this wording.

The importance of this carrot is huge: if by any chance Serbian expectations would be let down, I prospect an escalation of the situation in Kosovo. Even if the decisive support of the majors of Serbian municipalities de blocked a long deadlock, I cannot see substantive political ameliorations of the situations.

I will discuss the issue with some experts I had the chance to contact, here in Pristina.

 

 

My point is that the “carrot and stick” policy undertook by the EU since the beginning of the Kosovo barricade crisis allow a series of speculations which, in the end, won’t result in any good, nor for the pro-European Serbian government, nor for the far less pro-European Serbian society, nor for the wannabe Russians Kosovo Serbs.

First, a (still very possible!) negative decision of the Council against Serbian candidature will definitely undermine Tadic power, which will lead to his total defeat in next elections, most probably paving the way to nationalists parties success. So much for Merkel glorification of “multiculty” societies.

Secondly, even if the Council would grant Serbia with the candidate status (rather then frozen pseudo-idiotic half-effective semi-statuses, as Austria proposed…) , no effective steps towards the reconciliation with Kosovo have been made in last weeks. Au contraire the management of the crisis by Bruxelles (Berlin? Amsterdam? Vienna?) lead to an exacerbation of the conflict, which ultimately resulted in last hate speech made by several Serbian politicians.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the EU managed once more to pass for the “bad guy” at the eyes of Serbians. The way arguments in favor of the continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations, paired with the direct attacks led by several MS leaders to Serbian government managed (once more) to polarize the general impression of the EU, shifting it (if possible) towards a pro-Kosovar position. It does not matter if this is the case, if this is the real position of most EU countries. What matters is the way such position has been communicated to the public.
It seems that no one, nor the EU, nor Serbs, are learning from their past mistakes.

Which leads me to a conclusion: most probably change is guided more by ambition and blind will, then by wiseness.

Fourthly (an in the end), nothing changed in Northern Kosovo. Or, better to say, the IBM (the big “achievement” brought ahead by the Cooper) still remains on paper. I will try to move North, so to get some more informations on the matter.

Apart from everything, I have to communicate you all that the cappuccino in Pristina is extremely good. And when I say extremely, I mean that is the best I ever tasted in my life.

Should Serbia forget about EU? No, dear Kostunica. EU should re-think its values…

The first thing that I read this morning, while making my usual screening of world news, was this interesting confession by the father of the euro, Jacques Delors, affirming that the problems of the euro were born together with the common currency. Or, better to say, the roots, the seeds of the current crisis were already present in the moment the euro was created.

Curiously, former Serbian prime minister Vojslav Kostunica affirmed today  that Serbia should forget about EU and focus more on strengthen its internal policies to so stabilize itself as an independent state. “This new state policy [the agreement with Kosovo, supported by Tadic] and this new national goal that removes the issue of Serbia’s EU accession from the agenda is a natural consequence of the EU’s intention to snatch Kosovo away from Serbia”, these are Kostunica words.

The statement is has clear a election-campagne function. However, if my memory doesn’t fail me, the language used by Kostunica is peculiarly taken from Milosevic’s rhetoric of a strong, independent Serbia having a predominant role in the Balkans.
The huge clash of values going on between Serbian politicians is self-evident. Which is, more or less, of the same nature of the clash among pro-Europeans and Eurosceptics, going on in Brussels as well as in every and each of the 27 EU Member States.

Jacque Delors gave us the key  to solve both clashes: the euro system as such was born defected, handicapped. And since the EU, i.e. the pivotal argument around which both of the aforementioned clashes turn around is a rotten system from within, both Kostunica argument and Eurosceptics one are of no use.

Why? Conservative, nationalistic and protectionistics attempt to find a domestic solution to the European political and economical stalemate won’t lead to any effective solution, given the inter-dependence of EU political and economic future (so much for Adam Smith and its failed theories).

If it is true that the only possible future for Serbia is within the EU, it is also true that nowadays EU has a burden of historical mistakes that won’t make it possible to Serbia to join the Union without a disastrous cultural clash within its own society.

The only solution appears to reconstruct the European Union.
Recently, President Sarkozy took advantage of its position to propose a brave modification of the EU, down to its own roots: the EU founding treaties. I won’t comment on the measures proposed by Sarkozy, but I welcome the strong position of one of the major players within the EU arena.

If something has to change, this “something” cannot be anything else but the structure of the EU itself, so to make it more adherent to the real necessity of Europe, meant as the European continent.
This would be assure a sustainable new vision of the Union, which agrees with the geopolitical reality of the continent. This should be the common understanding over which our governors should re-build the EU system.

Rather then requesting societies which were integrated in Europe for centuries to torn, rape and dismantle their own cultural values (and I am referring to both Tadic and Merkel).

From your own correspondent: Novi Sad (Brussels in my mind).

Some might say, rightfully, that Novi Sad is the pearl of Serbia. It is indeed one of the most beautiful town I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. Counting on the fact that I will remain here for more then 2 weeks, I will be more than happy to update your touristic appetite at some point, when I’ll feel I have a better knowledge of the town. For the time being, have a look at some pics I’ve taken last night.

What makes me think at the moment is the news, delivered last night by several newspapers online, that the delegation of Serbia and the Kosovo representative reached an agreement on the “border”, on the base od the integrated border management (IBM) proposed by the EU.

First of all, it seems that saturday mornings here in Vojvodina are too quite and lazy, even for such a news. “Trafika” (newspaper and tobacco kiosks) are not crowded, as usual.

Secondly, and most importantly, the agreement has to be edited by Cooper (chief mediator for the European Union). Ergo, since the agreement was not signed yet, and we do not know the content of such agreement, there is room for a number of considerations.

The first comments concerns Serbian chances to be granted with the candidate status. If there is a single chance by Serbia to get the candidate status at this moment and time, this is due to the ongoing drafting agreement. Last week statements by EU leaders (Angela Merkel on top) led to no misunderstanding: Serbian path to the EU passes thought the normalization of relations with Kosovo. What remains unclear (or rather, what diplomatic languages left to Serbians hope and to the imagination of a blogger…) is the meaning of “normalization”. But I guess that both me and Serbians will be disappointed to know the answer, on Dec. 9th.

Aside from the Council decision, it will be fundamental to measure people’s unrest after the two bad news (no candidature and a fishy agreement with Pristina).

It is my conviction that Serbians are too tired to pick weapons up and solve the Kosovo issue “unilaterally” at this point.
Said that, those two bad news might surely arm Tadic chances to be re-elected as Prime Minister, favoring a nationalistic revival in the composition of next government. With a nationalistic government, unwilling to sit at the table together with Pristina, the chances for Serbians to join the EU are approximating zero.

If this will be the case, a huge responsibility will be played by those EU governments which are deliberately condemning the huge efforts made by Tadic government to modernize and reform Serbia. And at last, they will have a even greater responsibility in the (possible?) next breach to security on the European continent.

After sustainable growth, we should start talking about sustainable politics. EU foreign policy is still too much influenced by national interests to play any kind of political international role. Au detriment of the whole continent.
Once again.

“From your own correspondent…” Prologue

Apart from my unconditional passion for the Balkans, this blog takes its vital energy from a more substantive issue I am about to describe.

In Jan. 2011 I had the luck to be selected for a thesis research scholarship aimed at sending students abroad to collect findings for their thesis. Being an international relations student, the scholarship was a rare blessing, which granted me the chance to discover even more the rocky and harsh Montenegro. Pairing that intense research with my previous experiences in Crna Gora, I managed get closer to a decent comprehension of value schemes guiding the various social groups politically active on the independent Montenegrin soil.

Given this unique chance, I decided to use it in the best way I knew, i.e. requesting the support of my supervisors, “forcing” them to follow each and every step of my academic experience.
To cut it short, the pious supervisors of my BA thesis had to suffer a certain amount of  emails, in which I carefully described them the then ongoing process of researching, screening texts, interviewing. Every email’s object was: “Dal vostro inviato a Podgorica”, From your own correspondent in Podgorica.

Two years after, the correspondent moved from Podgorica to Bruxelles (some might say it is an evolution. I seriously doubt it). My new field of research will include “control rooms” filled with Eurocrats, posh conferences, spirited aperitivi with political figures.
Two years after, I had to understand that the path towards Orient imperatively passes through Bruxelles. My bridge to the Balkans had to take a detour from the usual path, heading to the European Capital, building a metaphysical (or ephemeral?) branch of my new bridge to Orient.

To put it less philosophical, I am currently researching on my MA thesis, which will investigate upon the possible effects of the superimposition of the acquis communautaire over former Jugoslavian republics’ internal legal systems. I will focus on the consequences for Serbians and Montenegrins, for their values systems, for their traditional institutions and culture.

In order to have a complete picture of the situation, I would not restrict my research in Bruxelles, but I will have the chance to entertain a research period in Serbia, so to corroborate my findings (or destroy them…) directly on the effective field of application of the aforementioned acquis communautaire.

And I will keep you posted.
Your own correspondent in [Bruxelles/ Novi Sad/ Belgrade/ wherever my research will lead me] is once more on the go.

Rakija internal diplomacy: how Croatians make sure Croatians will like the EU.

Last measures taken by Croatian government to make EU accession more appealing to its electorate might seem funny.

Will this pic be part of the Croatian government campaign?

However they demonstrates the deep roots of the lack of trust by Croats in the European Institutions. Most of this mistrust is due to the comprehensible geographical and cultural (historical?) difference between Zagreb (Slavonski Brod?) and Brussels. More then a solution to a problem, those measures, sound to me like an attempt by the Croatian government to control and influence their (weak) public opinion, the position of which represents a clear threat to Croatian effective inclusion in EU. Mind, I mean Effective, not on paper. Because it is clear that a huge part of Croatian civil society (the one, for example, protesting after the condemnation of Gen. Gotovina) it is not exactly welcoming the recent engagement of Croatian government in the international relations panorama.

I hope that pursuing Sanader and launching the aforementioned campaign would not be the only steps made by Croatian government in order to engage Croatian civil society into a deep and serious reflection on EU accession issues.
Or to make the internal/international public opinion blind.