Tag Archives: diplomacy

Karadžić arrested, ambassadors back – What next for Serbia?

Serbia’s new government really seems determined about its pro-EU ambitions.

The arrest of war criminal Radovan Karadžić is clearly a political breakthrough, not only for Serbia but also for the entire region as well as a promising sign for EU-Serbia relations.  Actually it can be interpreted as a success for the EU foreign policy approach towards Serbia in the last couple of months which consisted of openly supporting pro-EU forces coupled with some small concessions.

So what is behind this bold move of Serbia? Obviously symbols are very important in diplomacy (referring to the discussions about the “pro-EU” government) but I do not think this is purely a short term bit of PR. It is poltics, in a very realist sense of the word. The arrest of a war criminal like Karadžić is a politically risky business. And more importantly, the improvement of relations with the EU and the prospect of getting better contractual relations with the EU seems to be a political priority for the Serbian Government. So  it is rather easy: In order to receive any benefits out of the SAA (just consider the economic problems!) they needed to show their willingness to cooperate with the ICTY. If they are serious about their policy priorities they have to deliver. (BTW: The SAA, which was not that easy to get for the Serbian government in the first place, is signed but not implemented, implementation depends on full ICTY compliance.)

What next for Serbia?  – Here is the “to do”- list for the Serbian government:

1.) Serbia needs to get the SAA implemented which is in its own interest. However, the arrest of Karadžić might be enough for the time being to prove “full compliance with ICTY” which is a precondition for the SAA implementation. A bit of diplomatic wrangling (especially with Netherlands and Belgium) will be needed but it is possible to get the “full compliance” despite the other missing war criminals.

2.) Arrest Ratko Mladic & Goran Hadzic – Could happen quite soon. Apparently Karadžić was found during a operation that was aimed at Mladic. Of course the success now gives them a bit of extra time to arrest the next one. (I would look for someone with a long beard … just a thought after the arrests of Saddam Hussein and now Karadžić)

3.) Push the Kosovo issue in the background for the time being. Finding a diplomatic formula over the Kosovo issue is obviously the most difficult thing for Serbia, so tactically it is better to get it out of the way. I don’t think a quick solution is likely here. My guess is that this will be one of the political chapters in the EU accession negotiations, so it will be on the agenda in 5 years or so…. Although a final solution can be posponed until the very last moment of the negotiations (maybe with one of those very tense EU summits…), but eventually a Serbian recognition will happen. Plus, the EU will not repeat the Cyprus mistake.

4.) Status of an official EU candidate: Depends a bit on the complex “Lisbon Treaty and Ireland” issue. But I think once the SAA is implemented, the logical next step would be to get the offical status of a EU candidate, maybe next year. We are not talking about EU accession here, not even about opening EU accession negotiations, that is clearly a long term project.

Another interesting (and somewhat overlooked) story is that Serbia’s foreign minister Vuk Jeremic announced plans to reinstate the country’s ambassadors to twenty (!) EU countries that recognized Kosovo’s independence.  Belgrade withdrew its ambassadors for “consultations” on Feb 17 following the recognition of Kosovo by the majority of EU countries. So far these plans do not include ambassadors to the US and Japan.

However, another sign that Belgrade has priorities. And the priority, at the moment, is to have better links with the EU. I know it is strange to write and read about “policy coherence” in a Serbian context and that some “election promises”  were actually not forgotten and official priorities are treated like priorities… but c’mon why not give them some credit for a remarkable political move !?

Advertisements

Kosmolinks #13

  • “Leak of latest European Commission proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, known as the ‘health check’. These proposals will form the basis of an internal Commission discussion on 14 and 15 May 2008. The agreed proposals are due out later in the month.” –  Is this the first online leak of an important EU document?

  • A new balkan blog with this hilarious post: “In the early days of the siege of Sarajevo in the mid-1990s, a photo of a half-ruined post office with three items of graffiti written on its wall captured the imagination of the world. The first graffito read “This is Serbia!”; the second stated “This is Bosnia”. And someone scrawled underneath, “No, you idiots, it’s a post office!”

  • Very interesting article about Jeffrey Berman, Barack Obama’s director of delegate selection…

  • Andrew Duff (MEP) on the Lisbon Treaty and the upcoming referendum in Ireland and why the Irish eurosceptics are wrong.

  • “Global Power Europe” makes the case for a more decisive European approach towards Ukraine. And this “firm commitment” is EU accession..

  • Another shocking story on human rights in the US: “The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.”

  • A CEPS research paper that looks at “serious limits across three strands of democracy policy – the magnitude of incentives offered in return for democratic change, the degree of critical pressure exerted for democratic reform and the scale of European democracy funding.”

  • This interactive map developed by CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe shows 50 damaging projects planned or already underway in Central and Eastern Europe at a total cost to EU taxpayers of €10 billion.

  • The new Lisbon treaty is (probably deliberately!) very vague on the issue of a EEAS (European External Action Service). Indeed, clarity is something else, as some of the rather basic things still need to be solved, for example the interaction between the Council, the Commission and the member state staff, the role of the European Parliament, the formal title of the head of the missions and the formal title of the delegations…as well as the question “where the EEAS and the foreign policy chief will be situated.” Luckily, only in 2010 the final proposal need to be finalised.

  • Good and comprehensive analysis of the election results in Serbia.

  • “Do we—Europeans—have the political vision and will to make it happen? Do we want to remain the shapers of history, or would we rather continue under the delusions so ruefully picked apart by people like Kagan?” (…) On the present trajectory, of declining European military budgets; ill-equipped and under-prepared armed forces; poorly crafted foreign and security policies, particularly on the part of European Union Member States like Germany, Italy and Spain, one could be forgiven for thinking that the European Union’s future looks rather bleak. And as Kagan warns us, we need more than hope to prove them wrong…”

Some random thoughts on Kosovo

I actually did not want to write something about Kosovo…but well, here we go again. First a few good pieces from around the web and then a few random thoughts on Kosovo.

A good commentary on Kosovo can be found on stanley’s blog that writes “Recognition of Kosovo’s independence is an unfortunate solution, but there is currently no better solution.” Another outstanding article by Timothy Garton Ash (This dependent independence is the least worst solution for Kosovo) with some great quotes:

The Balkanisation of Belgium meets the Belgianisation of the Balkans. (…)

Here is the 21st-century European style of decolonisation: from protectorate to EU member state, without ever achieving full, sovereign independence in between. (…)

And it was in Belgrade, not Pristina, that I heard this joke: the Serbs will do anything for Kosovo except live there. (…)

Both statements are true: Kosovo is unique, and there will be more Kosovos.”

Plenty of interesting stuff, so go and read the article here. A few days ago Dusan Reljic gave this interview. On the whole I agree, but I think it is a bit exaggerated when he argues about international law and the UN (that unfortunately lost credibility not only because of Kosovo). And I also would have liked him to answer the question on partition… Public Policy Watch thinks that ” the decision whether to recognize Kosovo’s independence or not is determined primarily by the self-interest of individual countries” However, the most convincing point is this one: “Perhaps the majority of democratic countries with respect for human life still perceive Kosovo as a victim and Serbia as an aggressor.(…) This perception enables European countries to endorse an action contrary to the spirit and practice of international law in the area of state sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Kosovo flagSince I don’t want to repeat much that has already been said, I just want to throw a few random thoughts into the discussion:

– I always failed to grasp a general common feature of South Eastern Europe: Why do people still argue with stories and myths that come straight from the 14th century?

– 10 years ago there was a genocide in Kosovo so maybe Kosovo has a point of not wanting to be ruled from Belgrade? (To be fair I have to add that ethnic cleansing happened on both sides…) However, there is a 90% majority for independence. Apart from that, Belgrade has had not control over Kosovo for the last 9 years… (the dilemma is of course that Kosovo is not economically sustainable)

– A number of mistakes have been made in the 1990s by all actors involved (that includes Germany). But it is also ironic that now 7 “independent and sovereign” states exist that all want to join the EU to share competences (again). They will eventually negotiate with each other in Brussels…oh yes and I guess they also want to join the Euro and Schengen… so what was the point in splitting up in the first place?

– Despite the recognition debate, the EU acted with one voice. Thanks to the “formula of constructive abstention“(as reported by the EUobserver) the Council decided to deploy its biggest foreign policy mission to date to Kosovo. And of course it was not a coincidence that both events, the decision of the Council and the declaration of independence, took place within a few days … The official voting records will reveal that most of the countries that made a fuss about the independence approved the mission. But without the approval of the EU mission there would have been no declaration…

– Does it set a precedent? well, everything is a precedent if somebody in politics uses it as an argument. Anyway, it seems people like comparing apples with oranges. So what about Bangladesh, Eritrea, … I am not aware of any legitimizing UN resolution in these cases. Maybe even the whole process of decolonalisation and the collapse of the Soviet Union could also fall in this category… (ok, I admit, also too much history!)

– Sovereignty and independence are also quite relative (one could even argue dying) concepts – especially within the EU, so it is hard to understand that EU member states think the case might have an impact on their domestic situation. Regionalisation in the sense of subsidiarity has always been a EU principle and usually everyone is quite fond of highlighting that.

– Without any further comment: Belgium has recognised Kosovo

– And finally the idea of partition: diplomatically this could become a solution in a few years. The deal could be: Serbia takes control over the north of Kosovo, in return it recognises Kosovo as a state (which also means Russia drops the veto in the UN). At the same time the EU could offer Serbia some sort of fast track EU membership (again).

add to del.icio.usDigg itStumble It!Add to Blinkslistadd to furladd to ma.gnoliaadd to simpyseed the vineTailRank