Bolton comments on Kosovo/US recognition

June 27, 2008

Very interesting interview of John Bolton, former US Undersecretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations popped to my eyes today. The highlights of his comments in Interfax interview were e.g. following:

  • US recognition of severed Kosovo province was a serious mistake, leading to an escalation of tensions, instead of calming down the situation in the Balkans.
  • “support to the independence of Kosovo is an atavism that might have made sense 15 years ago, but makes no sense today.”
  • “consensus boils down to the fact that nobody knows where Kosovo is”

Extract from the interview you may find from my document library (right) or copy/pasting following

Mr Bolton really hit the nail on the head. I also think that the cause to the main problems in Kosovo is hesitation to admit old mistakes. The solution would be starting from clean table. Shall we wait US elections or does someone courage start earlier.

Western Balkans and European perspective

June 23, 2008

All non-EU states in western Balkans have been sad to have European perspective e.g. that sooner or later BiH, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Albania and even Kosovo – inside or outside Serbia – would be future EU members. I can not avoid some questions, like

  • Can EU any more absorb new members and simultaneously keep alive some its ideas?
  • Are European perspective and EU membership the same?
  • Are benefits from joining to EU bigger or less than being outside it?
  • Is there any alternative strategic alliances to EU?

Today´s EU

EU was meant to be an association of independent regions that pursue their own policies and serve the interests of their people. Today´s EU has Parliament sitting and travelling between Strassbourg and Brussels with zero power and authority. Instead Commission, their army of bureaucrats, lobbyists from different interest groups are keeping EU as their playground. Due the high risk of corruption EU tries to limit damages with Auditors (In Brussels I once heard that there is more auditors in EU than people who are really implementing some practical task). The Parliament´s Puppet democracy is showed by interpreting all speeches/documents to all EU languages and verse, sad that no one is listening or reading them.

EU is today already so big that democracy and efficiency are in constant conflict. When Ireland last week said no to Lisbon Treaty in democratic referendum it same time paralysed EU structure. If EU is enlarging even more the decision making mechanisms and maybe the tasks of EU should be reconstructed again – it should find the core functions again and cut off extra branches, trim the budget and administration. Today EU member states are paying more or less their taxpayers money to common budget and are receiving more or less back through some 500 different EU programmes. When common bureaucracy, Puppet democracy and corruption are taking increasing share so on the field one sees less money and actions. The bottom line is that EU´s ability to absorb enlargement is questionable and even if it could come bigger what´s the idea to join to it.

European perspective vs. EU membership

One common custom is to equate European perspective and EU membership. I totally oppose this equivalence. Almost half of Europe´s territory and 30 % population is not EU members. Does anyone believe, hat e.g. Switzerland and Norway have less European perspective than member-states. Western Europe shows only one part of wholeness of our continent, eastern Europe and also Byzantium are part of continent´s history. Perspective can point East as well than West.

EU has brought many benefits to its citizens – visa-/passport-free traveling and healthy competition over borders, more market economy instead protectionism, comprehensive multidimensional standards numbers of public and private fields. EU has also offered a forum to manage conflicts with peaceful manner.

However some of these benefits can be applied also without EU. For instance one can travel from Finland or Sweden (EU) more easy to Norway (non-EU) than from Hungary to Romania (both EU). Some standards outside EU can be better than worse than inside but one should remember that those standards are decided closer in one state and are not some compromise made in Brussels.

Being outside EU does not mean to be outside EU financing. EU has e.g. its border programmes with neighbors to finance transnational projects and also some inside programmes are open to non member-states. Economically inside EU each member has different case if they have surplus or deficit and how much with their EU budget, the same is valid future new members.

With this article I have highlighted some negative aspects with EU. In case of my home-country Finland I must confess that I have enjoined about many positive things EU has brought to my country, many projects and wider view which could be impossible without membership. Critical questions I have arised to break simple black and white picture which is familiar in simplified mainstream media in western Balkans. The question is too important to let it only to join or not level.

Some options for strategic alliances

So big question is if there is any alternative strategy to joining EU? I would like to see following options to taken into consideration in all non-member-states of western Balkans :

  • Strategic linkages to the BRIC countries – Brazil , Russia , India , China. These countries are representing rising economical, cultural and political powers (and markets) in three continent while Western Europe and USA are more and more going towards stagnation or moderate development at most.
  • Association Agreement without goal to come member-state could be good alternative and realistic also. Because EU can not absorb Turkey this kind of arrangement can be the most used alternative to enlargement by membership. Every country can negotiate their own association and cooperation agreement and highlight those topics which are important each individual state. Cooperation can be very wide with most of EU member benefits, of course also EU gains its share about cooperation e.g. with logistics through trans-European transport (roads, railways, energy, telecommunication …) corridors.
  • European ‘Free Port Zone’ – models could be e.g. Kaliningrad, Singapore, Luxemburg, San Marino. This position can make non-member state popular with people who want to live in Europe but do not like high taxes and with businesses that engage in international manufacturing, trade and commerce.

EU is not miraculous power which brings economic and other development with membership status. More important is what people are doing in each western Balkan state. They can develop their societies with or without EU depending individual needs and priorities. If they can develop good country for themselves (not because EU) it can be good country also for outsiders and e.g. diaspora can start to invest back to their old home-country like one can see now for instance in Russia.

Serbia´s National Programme for Integration of Serbia into EU

June 18, 2008

An outstanding document named as “National Programme for Integration of Serbia into EU” has been published on Serbain government´s web-site (see the link at my document library). This massive work – total 817 pages – outlines activities which Serbia is planning to undertake in all sectors of it society politics and law in order meet challenge/goal to integrate EU.

Serbia (then Yugoslavia) started its EU integration with Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) in November 2000 and Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) was signed April 2008. Parallel to the SAA negotiations Serbia started its National Strategy for the whole process of European integration with goal to reach membership status by 2012. If/when Serbia gets status of an EU membersip canditate the mentioned National Programme is coming one of the key documents of the government for future. It serves as reform guide, base of Government´s anual work plans etc. but most of all well prepared and detailed information on planned reforms not for European Commission/EU but for the Serbian society.

National Programme structures constitute six basic chapters:
1. Political criteria
2. Economic criteria
3. Ability to assume obligations resulting from membership
4. Administrative and judicial capacities
5. Preparation of the national version of acquis
6. Financial requirements and budget funds.

All chapters are describing legal and institutional framework, present situation and especially the planned actions for future and needed resources to implement them. One could forecast, that this document will be one of the most important policy programmes for policy makers in Serbia but more important is that actions through it will have effect to all citizens in Serbia – not only at state level but on the countrary at local level both in public administration, services and private sector development, NGOs and individual citizens.

Kosovo quasi-independence and it´s economical base

June 15, 2008

Today Kosovo had proclamation of it´s constitution. The mainstream media has highlighted conflicts of administration between UN and Kosovo institutions as well between UN and EU. The fact is anyway that the highest authority is the UN resolution 1244, which says that Kosovo is part of Serbia
(ex-Yugoslavia). Indepence declarations, local constitutions, Ahtisaari plan and EULEX are only at secondary level.

More important factor by my opinion for future of Kosovo is the economical base of this province. Official statistics from year 2006 shows that export from Kosovo amounted to 71.3 millon Euro while import increased to 1,241.7 million Euro (u by 802 million Euro compared with 2005). So the increase of import was more that the whole export.

From where is money coming to this consumption. The estimate is that when export brings mentioned 71 million Euro the organised crime (mainly drug trafficing) brings 1 bilion Euro, diaspora gives 500 million Euro and international community 200 million Euro.

If border control will bemore effective and when donations rom diaspora and international community are decreasing (like they have during last years) the basic question is how to reinforce the economical base of province.

Public debatte between UN and local politicians or between UN and EULEX is covering mentioned economical fact under. In my opinion Kosovo needs more economical development mission than rule and law mission. The later can be implemented trough UNMIK and Interpol. The future self-governance in Kosovo should have healthy economical base.

Full chaos with Kosovo administration

June 13, 2008

Year 2008 has showed the chaotic stage of international Kosovo administration. Local administration has been in same situation already earlier due parallel institutions, corruption, ethnic tensions, tribe dynasties etc.

When Albanian majority declared Independence Feb. 2008 the idea was to transfer international administration from UN to EU. However the only internationally accepted resolution 1244 – which says that Kosovo is part of Serbia – stayed valid. So that about independence which in mistake was was accepted through some 40 countries.

The unclear situation between UN and EU has now came conflict also between Nato and EU in relation cooperation between Kfor troops and EULEX-mission. Already earlier Kosovo status as special case has served as example to many other ethnic conflict around the world.

Isn´t it now finally time to confess the made mistakes and start new chapter through local stakeholders in stead of quackery by outsiders. I think that the best international crisis management would be to create opportunities for local agreement by means of stick and carrots. This could make it possible to transfer focus from legal nitpicking to long lasting development of economy and democratic process.

Co-rule as new option to open Kosovo deadlock

June 10, 2008

Albanian dominated Kosovo government is planning to start implement their quasi-independence 15th June, when UN should transfer administration to EULEX mission. Without new UN SG decision this is not realistic option so the the meaning of whole international administration, UN legacy and EU civil crisis management is in question.

One reasent option came public last week: UN may deside co-rule Kosovo with Serbia. This option is possible according resolution 1244. Practically it would mean, that Serbia would run vital services in Kosovo’s Serb populated areas. The UNMIK-Serbia partnership could be areas like bordercontrol Serbia-Kosovo boundary, customs, police, transport and telecom, justice and protection of Serbian cultral heritage. Already today e.g. education and health care north of Ibar river are integrated to Serbia.

Under UN/UNMIK EU could implement in some degree their EULEX so this option can be a realistic solution to this frozen conflict.

This kind of functional division would de facto mean partition but so what if this is pragmatical, long lasting and peaceful solution acceptable to local stakeholders.

Elections in FRYMacedonia

June 3, 2008

Elections in FRYMacedonia showed from my point of view two factors typical in Balkans: 1st how fragile is peace orchesterated by outsiders and 2nd what kind of “powderkek” Balkan area is. Outsiders have coerced peace also in Bosnia and Kosovo which both have continuening problems. However divorce between Serbia and Montenegro was peaceful, because both states acted according their agreement and honored the result of referendum. This kind of approach – outsiders out, locals in – could bring more peace also to other frozen conflicts.

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