The “new” architecture of Europe – Geopolitics as main accession reason

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that he expected the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to continue and that “at the EU/Western Balkan summit will reveal what the future architecture of Europe would look like.”

According to some media outlets, this is what the future EU will look like.

Today, just days after the EU-Western Balkans summit, the EU has decided to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, something that NATO members North Macedonia and Albania and even Bosnia and Herzegovina are obviously “not deserving of,” although they have been working towards the EU membership, negotiating with the EU and meeting its requirements for years now. The EU has used the membership tool for geopolitical purposes, some media claim. Ukraine, which is at war with Russia, and Moldova, which has unresolved territorial disputes, don’t have to wait or fulfill any criteria to have been granted a candidate status, while Georgia has been ordered to deal with the fight against corruption, and hence wait longer for its EU membership.

Ukraine has had an unresolved border issue since 2014 and has been in conflict with Russia since February 24 this year. The territories it has lost so far are controlled by the Russian military. On the other hand, there have been Russian military forces in Moldova, in Russia’s Transnistria region to the east (bordering Ukraine) since 1992.

Since the beginning of the negotiations with the EU (Serbia received candidate status in 2012), Serbia has been repeatedly told that an EU member state cannot have a “frozen conflict” on its territory and that the EU does not need a “repeat of Cyprus’ case” in Europe; therefore, negotiation chapter 35 was created specifically for Serbia. No other candidate country had to open this chapter on its EU accession path and the chapter implies the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

The chapter has not been closed yet and is expected to be closed last in the negotiation process. In other words, according to some experts, everything that “held Serbia back” in the EU accession process is now tolerated and allowed (with other countries), whether an unresolved territorial dispute or a “frozen conflict”, including foreign troops and armies on the country’s territory.

North Macedonia has not been granted candidate status, despite changing its constitution and official name to get the “green light” from Greece, and now Bulgaria is “obstructing” the country’s EU bid with a request to change its constitution again and give up rights to using Macedonian language.

Albania has been waiting years for candidate status, even though it is a NATO member and a loyal long-term ally of the West. Bosnia and Herzegovina, with all its “problems”, is actually considered a successful state compared to Ukraine and Moldova today, many argue.

Is this the new architecture of Europe?

The EU has missed an opportunity to send a clear signal to the Western Balkan countries that they too are important. Is geopolitics really the only tool for association, or should “EU standards” be achieved through meticulous negotiations and harmonization with EU policies?

It seems that Serbia and the other Western Balkan countries will have to “swallow the bitter pill” and accept the “rules of the game” that apply to some and not to others, and continue their difficult but correct path to the EU membership.

(B92, 26.06.2022)



This post is also available in: Italiano

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