Kosovar journalist defines Kosovo as the first non-State failed State.

Subheading: and he does not realise it.

Yesterday, EuObserver published an article written by the Kosovar journalist Ekrem Krasniqi. I strongly recommend you, dear reader, to have a look at that article and, if you do not faint because of the,  somehow intoxicating use of the modal verb “shall”, I beg you to come back to this blog and read what I have to say on the matter.

Welcome back.

One can be disturbed by Krasniqi’s article for many reasons: some could be Serbian nationalists, and therefore angry at a Kosovar journalist by default; some could disagree with his vision of the EU as a weak political actor; some might simply hate his writing “style”.

However, the reason why I utterly despise the article is the idea it carries, the image Krasniqi gives of the Kosovar government, scoring the clumsiest, goofiest auto-goal ever against Kosovo. I humbly deplore his article because he brutally demonstrates that my criticism of EU’s enlargement and neighboring policy towards the Balkans might have theoretically solid base, but it has to face the abrupt reality of ignorance and political idiocy of Balkan ruling class. And apparently, also of Balkan media.

I am pretty sure, dear reader, that if you ended up reading this blog you are somehow accustomed with the concept of acquis communautaire, the pantagruelic sum of norms derived from EU’s legal production, with which every candidate country has to comply before joining the club.

Lately, in my MA thesis which hopefully will be published soon, I compare EU enlargement with the theoretical backbone of colonisation: the “standard of civilisation“. I am not alone in criticising the very core of the acquis: in 2003 Silva and Sampson theorised that the acquis communautaire can be defined as the 21st century genealogy of new colonial paradigm within the EU borders. Why?

The concept of standard of civilisation originates from the early theories of international law. Prerequisites to be considered a State were (and still are) effective control over certain territory and legitimate rule over a populace subject to the State control. But those prerequisites were not enough to define entities worth to be considered as equals by the European powers. The standard of civilisation can be described as the law of those nations which are “civilised”, as opposed to “non-civilised barbarian tribes”:

“One can define a “law” or “standard of civilization” as an expression of the assumptions, tacit and explicit, used to distinguish those that belong to a particular society from those that do not. By definition, “hose who fulfill the requirements of a particular society’s standard of civilization are brought inside its circle of ‘civilized’ members, while those who do not so conform are left outside as ‘not civilized’ or possibly ‘uncivilized’.”

(Silva & Sampson, 2003).

Therefore, standard of civilisation had three major functions.
First, it has been used as a legal framework, as a principle of international law dividing the world in three major categories: civilised countries, semi-civilised countries and barbarians. This division reflects the need of modern European powers for reliable and equal partners in the colonies. Civilised and semi-civilised countries were considered as such in case they could bear the burden of reciprocity with European countries, in terms of rights, obligations and expectations of the political interaction.
Therefore, the second implicit function of the standard of civilisation is to it sort among different territories and cultures, legitimizing the European colonisation over certain territories rather than others, basing such legitimisation on the level of civilisation encountered. The “white man’s burden” and its French version “mission civilisatrice” were internationally applied by the Berling Congress and were further used by the League of Nations in order to legitimise the protectorate, an international law instrument to perpetrate colonialism.
Thirdly, the standard of civilisation became an hegemonic idea. No relations between European and non-European countries could take place without the compliance of the latter with the European standards.

Now, doesn’t it look like EU’s enlargement strategy? No? Substitute the words “standard of civilisation” with “acquis communautarie“, “civilisation” with “European identity” and the game is pretty done. Therefore, one might say that the enlargement process is in fact a revised version of the French “acquis colonial”, i.e. an attempt to “civilise” barbarian, philistine, inferior cultures and elevate them at the European level. One might also say that this is what is happening right now in Serbia, or in Montenegro, or, even more, in Kosovo, where the “mission civilisatrice” has a clear name and an international mandate: EULEX.

Bismark dividing Africa: will we experience Merkel ruling Kosovo?Image: Congo Conference, Berlin, 15 Novmember 1884 to 26 February 1885, “Everyone gets his share”, French caricature; wood engraving from “L’Illustration”, 1885/I.

Of course, it is not that easy. I have discussed these theories in my MA thesis, describing the current enlargement process and providing a solid theoretical base to each and every word posted on this article. My point is not to demonstrate that the EU is in fact colonising the Balkans. I am rather trying to stimulate a critical thinking over the way certain EU’s policies are developed and put in place. So, now that I have ironically used the “lite version” of my MA thesis’ arguments as a crowbar to dis-embed your belief over the EU’s neighborhood policy, it’s time to go back to the objective of this article: the Kosovar journalist’s proposals for a German restoration of Kosovo.

Let us assume that EU enlargement and neighborhood policy are in fact driven by neo-colonial practices. What Krasniqi is proposing in its article is a brutal, consensual taking over of Kosovo by German authorities, which shall in fact establish a real State over a territory which is now in the lap of the gods (and therefore, as Krasniqi describes it, it is not a State…). The Kosovar journalist foresees a better future for Kosovo and for the whole region if the Germans would export their education system, their political system, their economic system (and I guess he didn’t went further just for editorial reasons…), on the base of 20-years long contract.
To my eyes, in the light of the previous part of this article, Krasniqi’s proposal looks like the African/Indian/Asian/you name it local chieftain requesting the support of the East India Company. Quoting from Krasniqi: “Germany should install its experts in key Kosovo government departments” as, for example, the UK did in India, Iran, Burma, or as France did in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, or as Germany and later Belgium did in Congo, or as other European powers did in countless other political entities scattered on the globe, disappeared because of the colonial era.

To use modern terminology, Krasniqi implicitly defines Kosovo as a non-State failed State: Kosovo declared its independence, but apparently it is not able to enforce it and therefore it is not a State; however, Kosovo represents a threat to the security and stability of the whole region because of its failed government, its criminal economy and its bad relationships with neighbors, making it a look alike to a failed State.
Amazing. This goes beyond the wildest dream of the craziest CIA political analyst.

I find Krasniqi’s proposal simply ridiculous. It is in fact so ridiculous that I am seriously challenged to consider it is a badly made attempt to criticise the Kosovar government and the international community (which is responsible for the current situation in the Balkans, as Krasniqi rightfully reports). If it is not a boutade, and if there are people in Kosovo which would agree with such a proposal, I believe that most probably what they deserve is indeed a neo-colonialist regime, at the edge of Europe, in the 21st century, over a territory which experienced war, perpetual instability and a fake 5-years freedom.

Maybe it is true, as Santayana says, that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Apparently Kosovar journalists and politicians should go back to school.

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.

2012: will it be the end?

Along with the Mayan calendar, it seems that this world’s going to end the 21st December 2012. In order not to find themselves unprepared, however, Kosovars and the international community supporting Kosovo independence are deciding, as reported by Balkan Insight, to raise the anchor of the Serbian province independence more or less by the same period (I guess that Mayan didn’t predicted that!). The news emerged after the though riots of this week, due to the “customs war” between Pristina and Belgrade.

The author is not really sure about the end of the world, though. Nevertheless he has a strong feeling that  it is quite early for Kosovo to make this step.

Durer, “The Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. Every culture has its own way to imagine the end of the world. Unfortunately it seems that there’s just one world to be ended…

Even if a huge amount of critics can be directed to the most influential international actors engaged in supporting Kosovo’s independence, it is the humble opinion of the author that any sudden and rough-and-ready withdrawal of the aforementioned support is far more noxious to the regional stability than the support itself.

Unless European Union engagement towards the region is increasing, the nature of this “European interest” seems not solid and effective enough to keep the parties set at the negotiation table, nor to keep the Kosovar “border” safe.

Solution? The author believes that journalists can lack of ideas and solutions. Since the author is not a journalist, however, it is his duty to try to give his contribution to the issue.
Without a long term strategy (the Athisaari plan is everything but a long term strategy…) for the reconciliation between Serbia and Kosovo, any further unilateral decision made by the international community/Kosovo will be perceived as a threat by Serbians.
The fact that a huge part of Serbian voters perceives Kosovo as a continuous threat represents a far bigger problem, not taken in the due consideration by European diplomatic bodies.

To cut it short, the role of Balkan political leaders in relatively young democracies like Serbia and Montenegro might lead to straining speculation of the EU Enlargement policy. The political arena, lacking the participation of a mighty civil society, are still too sensitive to historically critical issues like Kosovo status. The wish to abandon the field by the international community represents the nth example of lack of serious engagement in supporting neighborhood countries, but for their own internal interests.

Somebody would say: “Fair enough”.

I think that I am disgusted by the vocab I’ve used in this article: a cultural issue should not be addressed in political terms.
However mutual understanding is by definition a compromise.
I made my part.

“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.