Sunday, May 19, 2024

NEAR AND FAR

This seems to be the scope of the European pretense that Western Balkan states will not be able to avoid it in the already irreversible process of EU membership. Europe’s clutter goes beyond the stated “aspirations” of the Balkan leaders. Europe requires the tangible results of systemic institutional changes that produce stability, democratic normality, and effectiveness in enforcing laws that carry the pre sign of the European recommendations.

Author: Bardhyl Zaimi

Opposite the clichés and Balkan mentality now there is a difficult but hopeful process. Opposite the political rhetoric for Balkan internal use, there are concrete commitments and obligations that must be fulfilled to give a meaning to the integration process. Opposite the citizens’ dream and political anomalies as well as the weaknesses of governance there is already a cautious European enlargement decision making with the Western Balkan states that require the instrument of consensus of all member states. Opposite the negligence and transitions with a thousand institutional anomalies there is an evaluation process from the European Commission, but also from the institutions of the member states, which do not allow for improvisations and do not leave to easily pass into the negotiation process that is preceded with full membership.

This seems to be the scope of the European pretense that Western Balkan states will not be able to avoid it in the already irreversible process of EU membership. Europe’s clutter goes beyond the stated “aspirations” of the Balkan leaders. Europe requires the tangible results of systemic institutional changes that produce stability, democratic normality, and effectiveness in enforcing laws that carry the pre sign of the European recommendations.

Whoever thought that they would easily pass into European space without internalization of these basic principles related to Europe’s original vision has mistaken and without any sense has perceived the enlargement process, especially after Bulgaria and Romania’s rapid accession, which in the analysis on the enlargement process has been assessed as a hasty decision.

Precisely to avoid this misunderstanding by the Western Balkan countries, it should be seen all the evolutionary trajectory of EU engagement in Southeast Europe now reduced and focused on naming the Western Balkans. Against previous commitments in the post-1990s, the approaching process has identified initiatives and documents that have outlined the enlargement process with other member states.

The author, Kasey Pamela Golding, in her study “The Balkan Question: Benefits and Challenges of European Integration through Enlargement”, stops on some of the crucial moments in the evolution of European commitments in the Western Balkans. Her study reflects the whole concept of the trajectory of the EU’s commitments towards the region, but also the whole creation evolution of the European Union in the conceptual and institutional level.

According to her, in 2000, the European Union drafted a comprehensive new accession policy for the Balkan region known as the Stabilization and Association Process. Golding sees this moment as a process that continued to put in place a management strategy to promote stabilization of the region, leaving out promises for future member states.

Another very important moment for countries of the Western Balkans, the author sees the holding of the Thessaloniki Summit in June 2013, in which the EU reemphasized its engagement in the Association. According to her, the EU stated that the future of the Balkans will be in the EU, and also stated that the future candidate countries of the region must fully affirm their commitment moving forward on the path of reform. The summit also affirmed the idea of ​​partnership, but also the creation of clear standards to assess progress and establish a basis for policy which are conditioned on enhancing financial assistance and the prospect of EU accession.

Golding notes that despite the fact that the EU affirmed this new commitment to the Western Balkans, nevertheless, in the meantime it faced a number of institutional challenges, including the 2008 financial crisis that brought Britain’s departure from the EU, the rise of nationalist parties in the EU member states, and the continuous refugee crisis. According to the author, this moment has forced EU officials to reassess their goals in the future. In 2014 European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced a five-year extension ban.

According to Golding, this distancing of membership prospects forced German Chancellor Angela Merkel to create the “Berlin Process” as an effort to save EU relations with the Balkan region and keep the hope of membership alive. This process, which includes yearly summits attended by senior representatives of the Governments of the Balkan and EU states, aims to reaffirm the region’s EU perspective, improving co-operation and economic stability within it.

In fact, this is the trajectory of concrete EU commitments to the region that is already being concretized into a common vision that is gaining new dimensions day by day, but is often stumbled by the irresponsible policies and governance of the Balkan countries. Of course, the Balkans would not be specific if it did not live in this permanent oxymoron of desires and destructions that remain typical for it.

Despite these EU commitments, which have at all times been concretized with solid financial assistance in support of establishing a functional value system that implies standardization with EU values, Balkan countries have manifested typical weaknesses, delaying and jeopardizing the process of integrations. The pro vote of the German Bundestag, which is in some way is in line with the affirmed concept of the “Berlin Process”, seems a signal of hope for North Macedonia and Albania, who are waiting for the second half of October to open negotiations.

You don’t need a brain to understand that this “pro” vote also has many conditions, which are a consequence of the previous concept of EU enlargement with other member states. France’s vote also remains vital to the negotiation process, while the French ambassador in Skopje has announced a “cocktail” decision that will embody reality and good acceptance resulting from the proclaimed membership criteria. Meanwhile, the Dutch foreign minister has stressed that the decision for Macedonia and Albania will be separate, warning of a vote against Albania.

It is not known how will be the decision of other EU member states, but one thing is for sure now that the opening of negotiations itself will be followed by a permanent evaluation at all levels of institutional functioning. It has already been emphasized several times in the public space that institutional capacity for involvement in the negotiation process remains at extremely disadvantageous levels. This will make the whole negotiation process difficult, despite the initial enthusiasm for starting it.

Moreover, the Balkans remain very close to Europe, especially after the signals for the opening of negotiations between North Macedonia and Albania, but at the same time far behind the institutional policies and practices that are dictated by the EU.

Near and far it seems like the permanent fate of the Balkans who learn the European lessons on shared vision and values in a very hard way!

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