The six West Balkans want to join the European Union for over 20 years. It remains vigilant to this day, especially China and Russia. How? And will the European Summit change anything about the situation today and tomorrow?

At the European Council today and tomorrow, candidates for EU accession from Ukraine and Moldova are on the agenda. Also, the outlook for Georgia’s accession is somewhat vague. However, before its council (European state and government leaders) begins, there will be meetings with representatives of six Balkan countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. These countries have been sitting in European waiting rooms for years and need to be relaxed, so some former Soviet republics further east seem to be favored.

It was at the end of November 2000 that the European Union convened the countries of former Yugoslavia and Albania for the Balkan Summit in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Less than two months later, Serbian nationalist President Slobodan Milosevic was expelled from power in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and earlier that year after the death of Croatian war leader Slobodan Milosevic, a new political affair. The wind started to blow. Blow in Croatia. The Balkans seemed to be entering a new era, with all expected to be candidates for accession to the European Union.

Serbia and Montenegro are the farthest

More than two years later, at the dawn of the summer of 2003, this vision of the future was reaffirmed at the EU Summit in Thessaloniki. The final statement literally said, “The future of the Balkans is within the European Union.” We are now almost 20 years later, but most of the countries involved do not yet have the prospect of rapid accession to the EU ( Slovenia When Croatia To do Already a member 2004 and 2013, respectively).

Balkan leaders and EU leaders

That doesn’t mean that nothing happened in the meantime. To a greater or lesser extent, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have already moved to EU member states.Standing farthest Serbia When Montenegro: They officially Candidate status And they have been negotiating entries for years. For a better understanding: These discussions examine how much the countries concerned have advanced the reform process necessary to become a full EU member state.

For this purpose, about 35 “chapter” are opened, processed in great detail, and finally closed. Chapters can cover justice, agriculture and fisheries, to finance, environment or customs. In all these areas, future member states will adapt laws and regulations to the so-called “acquisition” of the European Union, a legal document of approximately 130,000 pages that has been created and accepted in the EU for decades. is needed.

North Macedonia and Albania clash with Bulgaria

Just because a country is a candidate for membership does not mean that those negotiations will begin immediately.I have North Macedonia Albania to talk to. The first country was already recognized as a candidate in 2005, but because the former Yugoslav Republic was known, Greece, which opposed the name Macedonia, blocked accession negotiations for years. The Greeks insisted on the names of their own northern states, referring to their history.

Membership negotiations with North Macedonia blocked by Bulgaria

After years of difficult negotiations, when the feud was finally settled in 2019, when the name was changed to “North Macedonia”, the road to the start of European accession negotiations for North Macedonians. Seemed to have been cleared. But Bulgaria came up with a new veto. North Macedonia, among other things, had to first admit that its language and identity were in fact a recent phenomenon. Read: In fact, this area has historically belonged to Bulgaria. Bulgarian also seems to hold their position in this European Council.

Bulgaria’s veto power over North Macedonia is also Albania solid. Sophia is not dissatisfied with Albania, but the EU has simply linked the European integration of North Macedonians to the Albanian integration. Therefore, there are two Balkan countries that meet all the conditions for actually initiating accession negotiations, but cannot because of a situation that has nothing to do with whether they are ready or not.

Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo: Lantern Bearer

and, Bosnia-Herzegovina† The country submitted a candidate for EU accession in 2016. However, Bosnia remains a “potential candidate.” And it has to do with the blockage of the political system there. For example, the Serbian region of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska, with its ultranational leader Milorad Dodik) launched a boycott of state agencies last year, threatening to deprive various legal and military powers. ..

The last line is Kosovo† The former Serbian state, home to the majority of Albanians, left Serbia in 2008 and its independence is now recognized by about half of the UN member states. However, Belgrade is still resisting withdrawal and will not be able to initiate Kosovo’s EU integration unless a negotiated solution is found.

So it’s not working for the Balkans. Traveling to Europe can take a tremendous amount of time. And the fact that they “belong to a European family” makes those words sound more and more hollow. This is also reflected in the enthusiasm for the European Union among people from different countries. According to the Ipsos agency, the worst is the situation in Serbia, where support for EU accession has dropped from more than 60% 15 years ago to 46% now.

Serbia's enthusiasm for the EU at the back burner

The debate over the candidacy of Ukraine and Moldova (and Georgia) could possibly bring new impetus to the Balkans. If they are accelerating the path of integration, why not the former Yugoslav Republic and Albania? Of course, there are still many obstacles to be removed (corruption, democratic deficits, etc.), but that also applies to the former Soviet countries.

New momentum?

The new dynamics are definitely good for the European Union. For years, Russia and China have sought to increase their influence in the Balkan region at the expense of the EU. China This is mainly done in the economic sector, whose main infrastructure works in the context of the “New Silk Road”. Russia Has a political agenda primarily by baking pancakes with traditional allies in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (some of the Serbs), and by hindering the integration of Europe and the Atlantic on the Balkans. I am.

The expansion of Europe has long been a subtle issue as some traditional member states, such as France and the Netherlands, have begun to increasingly oppose it.But because of the war in Ukraine, the idea is again Salon Fehig Become. Perhaps the Balkans can benefit from new momentum.

Source: vrt

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