Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Why Do We Bother?

I just don't understand it. While we expend vast amounts of energy frustrating Turkish attempts to join the European Union - despite Erdogan's best efforts to reform it in line with our rigorous standards - we approach Serbia, that hotbed of xenophobic nationalism and protector of war criminals, with open arms.

Indeed, if all goes 'well' the Slovenian Presidency will sign a Stablisation and Association Agreement with the Serbs this Thursday, offering them closer trade relations and relaxed visa requirements.

My question is, in exchange for what? Why exactly are we handing all of this to Serbia on a platter when there is precisely 'no evidence', according to Serge Brammaerts, the new Chief Prosecutor for the International Tribunal tasked with bringing war criminals to justice, that Serbia is cooperating in the search for Mladic?

This is the first and only main requirement the EU imposed on Belgrade for the SAA to be signed - and now we are all but ignoring it. So much for the EU commitment to upholding Human Rights.

The Presidency defends its decision on the basis that pro-Western President Boris Tadic has just been re-elected, as opposed to the pro-Moscow nationalist Tomislav Nikolic. But I'm afraid that doesn't really cut the mustard.

Firstly, the contest was exceptionally close, with almost half the population voting for closer ties with the Ruskies and in favour of ultra-nationalist sentiments. That's hardly evidence of a revolutionary change in mindset.

Secondly, both candidates came out against independence for Kosovo - one of the EU's main objectives.

And thirdly, ties with Russia have been effectively institutionalised after the same said Tadic allowed Gazprom and others to buy up almost all of Serbia's industry and major enterprises.

What we are looking at is a new Russian Satellite whose infrastructure, economy, and legal institutions are in need of nothing less than a major shakeup. Of what possible advantage could a country like this be to the EU?

However, thanks to Kostunica, we may not have to worry about that, at least for a while. He has come out against the planned agreement, accusing the EU of "directly undermining the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia and its constitutional order" through a planned peace mission to Kosovo.

As the government coalition relies heavily on support from his faction, his move could topple the government by the end of the week. And that would mean forming a new coalition with none other than uber nationalist Tomislav Nikolic. Good to see that times have changed so definitively.
Instead of pretending that Serbia is yet in a fit state to join the Union we should focus on countries that can offer us something in return.

Turkey, with its access to and influence over Central Asia and its gas reserves, its highly educated labour force, growing economy, and potential for overcoming regional security issues, is far and away a better prospect than countries like Serbia who would simply take and not give.


Meral Hussein Ece said...

The answer to your question, is what all Turks now believe: Turkey is a large Muslim country, and Serbia is not.The majority of Turks do not believe that Turkey will ever be allowed EU membership for that reason. Serbia also has powerful allies like Russia, and of course Greece.

EU-citizen said...

Sarkozy said he can read a map!
Can you?
What about Serbia is a Christian European country whereas Turkey is neither Christian nor European?

Consider This said...

The EU is not a Christian Club, it is a Union which coheres around the free market, shared rule of law, democracy and Human Rights. Those things basically define the Copenhagen Criteria and it's that we should refer to when working out who's suitable to join. And a country like Turkey which has put those reforms in place is a far better candidate than a place like Serbia which has not yet got over a primitivist war and is still living in the past. Given that Europeans fought each other for hundreds of years over whether someone was a protestant, catholic or orthodox (not to mention expelling the Jews, holocaust etc) you think we might have gotten over the religious divide - that's why we chose to separate church and state. And that's why the French - more than anyone else - with their laic state should agree with Turkey's accession process.

EU citizen - I gotta say that

Anonymous said...

"Consider this" consider this

Turkey Democracy? You must be kidding! I know that Bujukanit is chief of staff in Turkey! I do not know who is in my country or any other EU country!
Human Rights? You must be kidding again! When did you last read a report from AI or any other human rights group? It is getting worse!

Christian Church means nowadays tolerance. In Turkey we had five instances of deadly attacks last year and many reports of arsons and ...
Are you kidding mr "Consider this"?

You mentioned the religious wars several centuries ago and you forget the Armenian Genocide, the Assyrian Genocide, the Pontian Genocide and more recently the Kurdish Genocide.
You seem to forget the expulsion of practically all Christians from Turkey. By the way, indigenous people not imported like the jews or the Turks!
The secular Turkey is a myth! How come Turkey has now a population of more than 99% muslims when in 1928 (after genocides and ethnic cleansings) there were more than 10% Christians?

What on Earth are you considering?

Consider This said...

hi, to my critics I'd just like to point out I never said Turkey should join the EU, right now, just as it is, without COMPLETING the appropriate reforms. It must adhere to the Copenhagen Criteria which means if there's no improvement on minority rights etc then they can't come in, period. My point was only that while Turkey has at least started to put these reforms in place (what else can you call the overhaul of the penal code etc a few years ago??) Serbia has done absolutely NOTHING so far to merit it signing the SAA. Neither country, in my opinion, is yet in a fit state to be a member of the EU according to the EU's own guidelines (though sadly a number of current Member States, from Italy through to the UK would also fall foul of these at the moment). As per the various genocides mentioned, I for one am totally against the idea that a modern state shoudl be made responsible for crimes committed by its predecessor and for which it is not legally (though it may be morally) responsible. And correct me if I am wrong but I thought the Christians were now returning to Turkey thanks to the rather more tolerant reign of Mr Erdogan's AKP after decades of discrimination from the secular nationalists??? Consider that...

Anonymous said...

why do we bother?
we bother because people in the war died for us,they died so we could live in freedom, and they died bacause they thought it was worth it.

Anonymous said...

sorry but i dont know how to start my own post so here is a poem about remembrabce day:
when i went to see the soldiors.
i went to see the soldiors row on row on row,
i had respect to see their badgers all on show,
we bought them here to kill and die,
just to see the others cry,

They trained as one they foughte as one,
they bonded together they loved together,
we know this now ,
as they died for us just do we could see the light to freedom,

here i am now staring up at all the rows,
here they are now , and here they should stay,
each one row in row in row,
their headstones lined up,
when i went to see the soldiors.

please leave a comment after reading this xox

shaza said...

waw i think thats a realy good poem, very touching , ur good , and i think u ment so not do x

Consider This said...

anonymous - i dont understand. Who died so you could live in freedom?

Yes the war was tragic for all concerned, but it's not the issue at hand.

The issue is how the Balkans plans for peace and its future.

Serbia has failed to move on from the past. The election results proved that nationalism is more important to Serbs than EU accession.

As it turns out, therefore, Serbia is actually more honest in its values and its dealings with the EU than the EU is with Serbia. For while we speak about Human Rights and reforms, and dont demand them from accession states, the Serbs do know what they believe (that Kosovo belongs to them) and are prepared to stand up for their principles. For that, at least, I can admire them.

But I still maintain that the Balkans must come to the EU, not that the EU must go to the Balkans