EU creates new divisions in the Balkans

JEF press release as response to the Commission’s planned partial visa liberalisation of the Western Balkans

, by JEF Europe

EU creates new divisions in the Balkans

Jacques Barrot and Olli Rehn will announce the Commission’s recommendation to lift the visa requirement for Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia (without Kosovo) by 1 January 2010 in Brussels next Tuesday. The initiative to create a Schengen White List for Western Balkan countries is the right step to take. However, it creates new divisions and anti-EU sentiments by leaving out some citizens in the region.

This week, Secretary-General of the Young European Federalists (JEF) Peter Matjašič visited Sarajevo to talk to local partners about the problem of visa liberalisation. “It is important that the Commission considers the implications if Bosnia and Herzegovina is left out of this process, consequently leaving Bosniaks as the only inhabitants of BiH without the ability to travel without visa limitations” he sums up his experience.

The situation is especially problematic as the effects of the Commission’s new visa regime will contribute to further ethnic separation on a formal level. Bosniaks (mainly Muslim Bosnians) represent the majority of Bosnians and have, in contrast to Bosnian Serbs and Croats, no dual citizenship with Serbia and Croatia. Thanks to laws in neighbouring countries, Croats and Serbs have the chance to get a second passport, while most Bosniaks will be left without that chance. This means that the new EU visa policy will only, and formally, exclude and discriminate one part of Bosnia’s population. Additionally, this will happen on ethnic grounds, thus playing into the hands of nationalists.

Morally speaking, the effects of the new visa regime will be even worse as the announcement will come three days after the 11 July, the annual commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide in 1995. As the 24 year old Amar, who grew up in Sarajevo during the siege from 1992-1995, said to Deutsche Welle TV: “Victims are expected to accept that Ratko Mladić will have a better passport than them, thus be allowed to travel visa free...”

The European Commission and European leaders as well as national politicians should stop creating new divisions in the Balkans.

On 14 July 2009, the Commission should recommend visa free travel to all citizens of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. President of JEF-Europe, Samuele Pii says “European foreign policy can only be effective if its carrots and sticks are credible. There is no technical, political and moral justification not to recommend the same for all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Residents of Kosovo, however, will remain excluded from the lift of visa restrictions because of diverging positions on Kosovo’s legal status. This is a contradiction in itself: if Kosovo is considered part of Serbia, Kosovars should be allowed visa-free travel like the rest of the country. In contrast, if Kosovo is recognized as an independent state, it should be brought on the road to visa liberalisation. Either way, it would be fair and efficient to promote the joint integration of Serbians, Serbian Kosovars and Albanian Kosovars in the European family by simultaneously lifting visa restrictions for all the citizens living in the Western Balkans.

“JEF has been fighting for a visa free and united Europe for a long time and strongly believes that travelling across Europe is the best recipe against nationalism”, stresses Samuele Pii. Thus, the European Commission and European leaders as well as national politicians should stop creating new divisions in the Balkans and focus on bringing much needed trust and confidence in the EU’s ability to deliver and contribute to positive change.

Image: visa = borders, source: JEF Europe

for further information on the process of visa liberalisation:

ESI website

video of Deutsche Welle

Your comments

  • On 15 July 2009 at 00:26, by Pavol Szabo Replying to: EU creates new divisions in the Balkans

    The European parliament resolution few months ago, besides stating the financial and manpower help to Kosovo, also encouraged the member states to recognise their independence as far as I remember. Still the EU foreign policy in unanimity and excluded competence, EU probably (informaly) accepts Kosovo, but without the recognition of those 4 member-states, EU is powerless in this matter. Then it is pointless to detach in any way Kosovo from Serbia, as from the international and european point of law, Kosovo is still part of Serbia as you wrote.

    Regarding the other balkan states I agree as well. Minimum separation methods imposed on potential accession candidates could prove valuable and also ab ante eliminate potential barriers for future talks. Good article.

  • On 9 August 2009 at 06:57, by ? Replying to: EU creates new divisions in the Balkans

    The EU is not the only organization promoting new divisions in the Balkans, nor are the Balkans the only place this is happening. The UN is also involved in promoting new divisions, in countries around the world and it appears deliberately as a tool that is being used to destroy nations. In fact, there are few countries in the world now where federalism is not being pushed, and from sources external to these nations, and as a precursor to ethnically, religiously, racially and tribally defined regions being newly created and then being pressured to separate from the rest of the existing nation. These regions are the pressured to secede from the existing nation. This usually occurs at the same time that ethnically defined militias are set up and funded by external countries to wage war in these regions, attack and dispossess the people and create conditions that foster secession and external military control by multinational foreign forces, such as UN peacekeepers, NATO, and various “multinational military coalitions” including in countries such as Iraq with the “coalition of the willing”, Sudan with African Union military forces and Indonesia with INTERFET military forces, and these are just a few examples of the same process being seen all over the world. At that point, as is the case with Yugoslavia, the “new states” are then miitarily occupied, controlled by foreign countries economically, militarily and physically and have no control over their own land, economies, security, borders or sovereignty. The two countries that are predominantly benefitting from this process economically with massive foreign direct investments in these nations and increasing political, and economic control are Germany and Japan. In the case of Yugoslavia, Germany was directly involved in fostering this division process and the destruction of the nation of Yugoslavia when they recognized the criminal and illegitimate and unconstitional acts of the elected regional Yugoslavian leaders of the newly created federal states of Croatia and Slovenia, when neither the people of these states nor the people of Yugoslavia had either voted on it, allowed it nor wished it. It appears that the leaders of these federal states that all of a sudden by themselves “seceded from Yugoslavia” were backed by Germany who supported them in their act. And hence supported the destruction of the nation of Yugoslavia.

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