From your own correspondent in Bruxelles: first chapter sent

Some says that the first chapter of your thesis is the most difficult to write down. I disagree.

Not just because I love writing, and I love writing about the topic of my thesis (and ergo I love my thesis), but also because it is much harder to find a way to capitalize your writing effort, and make it worth.

I have the impression that for how much energy I might put in my writings, this won’t change much in my future. I am aware that Bruxelles “working environment” it’s not really sensitive to hardcore, mind-blowing, concerned MA thesis, especially if written by a (not so) young Italian wannabe anthropologist. This however does not change the amount of time I spend every day to work on it.

Some others might contest that the value of a thesis relies in its scientific arguments, not in the effort the student put in it. I would really like to find someone willing to sit down and pass through my thesis with a scientific eye. This would be already and achievement.

To be honest, I have found someone. My beloved friends are supporting my editing, helping me polishing the thesis, providing an incalculable added value.
I have also hell of a good “supervisors team”.

But I somehow am sure that, out there, there will be very few people interested in an anthropological criticism of the enlargement policy.
Since I believe it is extremely useful, I am considering the idea of voluntarily (and freely) send it to our Commissioner Füle, once it will be ready.

Maybe this might not be the right approach, but lately I paid to much attention to the so called “right approach” than to the content of the message I was delivering.

It’s time to go look back at contents rather than shape.


Corruption and organized crimes: Füle addresses the Balkans

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.

Without a more cultural intensive approach, EU will keep on playing with Serbia for long…

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.

“Improved situation”: Serbia

Along with the International Crisis Group monthly report “Crisis Watch” (the same bulletin which caused an immense warning over Bosnian referendum situation a month ago, without taking in consideration the fact that the referendum was simply a new phenomenon of a situation that thew Dayton Agreements didn’t managed to resolve in 15 years…), after the capture of Gen. Mladic, the situation in Serbia has improved.

What does “improved” means?
ICG monitors the situation in several world countries afflicted by any kind of conflict, both at the military or political level. To cut it short, the good part of this analysis is that it provides a quick an up-to-date panorama of the last events and also a (very) general history of the whole crisis.
However, the analysis is focused on merely political/economical/military aspects, lacking of any social analysis, thus mis-interprets the actual situation in Serbia, which, by my modest point of view, it is not so clearly and incontrovertibly “increased”.

As demonstrated by the protest against Mladic extradition, a huge portion of Serbia’s public opinion it is still linked to the idea of nationalism carried by the former political elite, of which Mladic was, in the end, the “armed arm”. This idea of nation, as carried by Karadzic, Milosevic and some well known Serbian literates, it is still strong and hard to eradicate. Most of Western actors refers to this nationalism as “sick”, against history flow, or simply fake. Although the products of such nationalism could be surely condemned as violent, the same nationalism, as a genuine believe of part of the population, can’t be referred as sick by foreign actors. The judgement over those matters remains an exclusive of Serbians.

The reactions after the capture of Gen. Mladic were extremely strong by every international actor, especially by the European Union. DG Enlargement’s Commissioner Fuele welcomed the capture far before the President of the Commission Barroso. The strong engagement demonstrated towards the Balkans in the last month by Ashton also resulted in a very welcoming reaction towards Serbia. Such a warm welcome is “The Welcome” Serbia is waiting since years? I don’t think so.

Goran Hadzic is still absconder. Along with the last reports made public by the Commission, Serbian juridical system has several systemical problems that has to be solved before joining the EU. The path seems to be longer then expected. However the political pressure put on Serbian public opinion by the international reactions to Mladic capture may lead to a “huge misunderstanding”: Serbia seems not to be ready yet, but the EU is “welcoming” every step made by the actual government towards Brussels.

Brammertz’s last words on Serbian collaboration with the UN established tribunal were highly critical. Days ago the UNSC discussed, together with Brammertz, how Serbian authorities collaborated with the UN Chief prosecutor. Despite the capture of Mladic, Brammertz analysis won’t be of any good for Serbia…

Is the EU is satisfied?
Also days ago, UN News service reported that the war crimes tribunal are facing stuffing crisis as the end of their mandate is approaching. Along with this information, the two tribunals does not have enough personnel in order to decently continue their work untill their mandate is supposed to expire, in 2014, fulfilling UNSC Resolutions. The same tribunal is demanding direct and immediate support from member states, in order to stop this institutional crisis. But why this situation is taking place? Will this represent an obstacle for the prosecution of further suspected war criminals? Would this situation lead to a slow, never ending trial against the old Mladic? Is the UNSC trying to disengage from the tribunal, since the most of the job has been done?

Those amount of question arose also thinking at the last reports made by the EU towards Serbian accession to the Union. Will the European Union be satisfied with the “mere” capture of Mladic or it will take a look also the outcome of the trial (and the further collaboration of Serbian authorities with the tribunal)? Taking in consideration the news about the current crisis within the ICTY, the second scenario looks like the nth frustration factor the Serbian government will be forced to face in order to comply with its international duties…

Linkage theory – Serbian style
A Kosovar Albanian political analyst smartly affirmed that after Mladic capture Tadic will likely put more pressure on Kosovo, pushing for a solution of the controversy in favor of Serbia. Moreover, certain international campaigns and independent researches (like Carla Del Ponte attempt to organize an independent task force investigating the possible traficking of organs and people in Kosovo) are creating a general mistrust towards Kosovo leadership. Yesterday EU established its own task force with purposes similar to the Del Ponte’s proposition, thus investigating on possible organ trafficking, which could involve also Thaci.
More pressure on Pristina means by definition a more active and aggressive role of Belgrade.

How this can be referred as an “increased” situation by the ICG remains unclear.