Correspondent in Brussels
The three-day tour of the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for six Western Balkan countries aims to instill a message of hope in the promise that all of them will one day be members of the EU. The reality is that next week’s summit in Slovenia coincides with a time when tensions within and outside the region are multiplying. Serbia and Kosovo show their teeth In the north of the former Serbian province, the Bosnian Serbs threaten once again to separate from this country of impossible cohesion and although things improve in Albania, their path to the EU is linked to that of North Macedonia, which has it blocked because it does not succeed either. resolve its political differences with neighboring Bulgaria, a country that is already a member but is falling into a delirious spiral that has made it the subject of US sanctions for its failure in the fight against corruption.
In addition to internal tensions, the main problem for the EU in this region is that there are other external interests taking positions on the ground. Russia, Turkey, the United States and even Iran extend their tentacles in this region, while in Brussels the community structures tend to look with more and more skepticism at the possibility that all these countries will one day become members of the club, especially after having seen the cost that the Unfinished “digestion” of the arrival of the eastern countries.
After a legislature in which it was decided to freeze the enlargement process, the Von der Leyen Commission gave the go-ahead last year to the start of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, but Bulgaria has decided to veto its neighbor, with the that practically shares language and history, due to an irresolvable dispute over the interpretation of certain events and the assignment of some historical figures of the last century and without the consent of all member countries, it is not possible to convene negotiations. In Tirana, the president promised on Tuesday morning that Albania’s accession negotiations will begin by the end of the year because this country “has clearly fulfilled its obligations in judicial reform and Europe must now fulfill its promise” but for The afternoon in Skopje could no longer clarify if they are going to separate the process and start earlier with the Albanians while the Norwegians clarify with the Bulgarians, or if the blockade will be maintained for both.
Declaration of goodwill
The meeting prepared by the Slovenian presidency between European leaders and those of Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina it is a declaration of goodwill, but it remains to be seen if it will solve the problems that arise there.
This Wednesday representatives of Serbia and Kosovo had to meet in Brussels to try to defuse the tensions caused by the decision of Kosovo to cancel issued car registration plates in times of the United Nations administration and that begin with KS and keep only the modern ones that read RKS, that is, they add the category of “Republic” which forces Belgrade in some way to assume this denomination linked to independence that He does not recognize. Serbian municipalities in northern Kosovo have blocked the main roads and are not even accepting the arrival of troops from the NATO mission that is still operating there. So delicate are the balances that Von der Leyen preferred not to draw a direct route between Pristina (Kosovo) and Belgrade (Serbia) but instead chose to pass between Podgorica (Montenegro).
Things are even worse in Bosnia, a very complex country where three communities should coexist separately, Bosnians and Croats (Croatia is already a member of the EU) and the Serbs who have decided to boycott the common institutions and once again threaten to proclaim their independence starting with the creation of their own army. Bosnia is precisely the last country that Von der Leyen will visit this Thursday, and there he will attend together with the primer ministro croata, Andrej Plenkovic, to the opening ceremony of the Svilaj bridge that connects that country with Croatia and which is currently a symbol.