Reporting about the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, German newspaper Die Welt writes that “the EU wants to create a new mini-Yugoslavia in the Balkans.”
This is according to Croatia’s Index website, that said the summit brought together “the countries of the Western Balkans, as well as the leaders of Germany, France and Italy, and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.”
The article points out that the EU is currently not able to receive new members, and therefore wants to create a customs union in the Balkans.
According to the Croatian website, which quoted the German newspaper, “the planned Balkan customs union should be made up of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Macedonia, therefore all the countries created by the breakup of Yugoslavia, and possibly Albania, and the EU says that creating a common economic space would make these countries better prepared for accession – when and if it is ready to receive them.”
At the same time, “the EU wants to maintain its influence in a region where major rival powers are already clashing.”
“Fortunately for Slovenia and Croatia, they are already members of the EU,” remarked the article.
“The goal of the customs union is to deactivate the Balkan powder keg, but without accepting these countries into the EU, with the Western Balkans being trivial for the EU, but politically speaking of central importance, especially if one knows European history.
Yugoslavia kept stable that explosive mix of peoples, and now that is the task of the European Union,” the German newspaper said, warning that “tensions in the region are growing.”
Therefore, the EU wants to “revive the former Yugoslavia, this time as a customs and transport union, only without Croatia and Slovenia who are already in the EU.”
“In such a constellation, Serbia would have the main role and all other countries would gravitate toward it – so it is not surprising that Belgrade strongly supports this European, or more precisely, German idea,” the article continued.
“As Belgrade dominated in Yugoslavia, it would leave the greatest imprint on the new union,” Die Welt said, adding that “Macedonia would no longer have to constantly fear for its survival because it would be part of a larger alliance, instead of alone and without defenses, surrounded by neighbors who are hostile: Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, and Serbia, who all to some degree consider Macedonia not to be a real state, some of its parts belonging to them, and Macedonians a made up people.”
The article also mentions that “polls show there is regret over the dissolution of Yugoslavia in the countries of the Western Balkans with the exception of Kosovo,” and it is also noted that the disappearance of Yugoslavia had created “a vacuum of power in Europe, which has not been properly filled to this day.”
“Just as the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy made Europe weaker and later extradited to Hitler the newly emerged dwarf states, so the end of Yugoslavia created a permanent zone of conflict in the heart of Europe, where games of geopolitical domination are played by Russia, Turkey, the United States, Germany and other great powers,” said the newspaper.
According to this, Yugoslavia disintegrated “because of the rivalry between Serbs and Croats” – but a new Western Balkan union would be “bipolar”: on one hand, eight million Serbs in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, on the other, five million Albanians in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia would “dominate the rest of the alliance.”
“If all these countries created a common economic space, it would logically facilitate their accession to the EU,” Die Welt believes, and recalls that the EU itself has begun “more or less” as a customs union.
On the other hand, “the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo” is described as “particularly problematic” – as Serbia considers Kosovo its own part “rather than an independent state” – and in that case, the Cypriot scenario could be repeated, says the article.
“Montenegro would have the least to gain from the Western Balkan customs union, as it has made greatest progress in its EU accession negotiations, and for it to stay in the newly created customs union would mean the greatest loss. For Kosovo, this idea, despite the domination of Belgrade, could bring the most benefits, since it is a state that is the farthest from EU membership, and this would be literally the first step in that direction,” concluded the German daily.