European Balkans 2022

Croatia needs a better Balkan policy

Time for the European Balkans, not for the open Balkans one, or the Serbian World, but for the European Union to get serious with the Balkans accession and integration. So how to get this done? Here is the step-by-step, country-by-country guide what needs to be done to get this done. Let us start with Croatia

Croatia, get fully in and get fully serious

Croatia since 2009 in NATO and 2013 in EU will now by 2023 be fully in Eurozone, 2024 in Schengen and should be in OECD. That is good and long overdue. Same should be done for Romania and Bulgaria and shame on all who delay full Membership any day or year longer then 2024 for new members.  But the new member should be serious with us in EU and accession countries as well. Solidarity in billions for COVID and particularity in foreign policy is not real solidarity. So Romania, recognize Kosovo. So Bulgaria allow North Macedonia to start EU negotiations. Internal fragilities and ancient identity issues can not be settled by the borrowed power of the EU. Get in line of give back the billions. Croatia gets it all now, so Croatia let us discuss your foreign policy in Balkans. Croatia is active to support Kosovo now and that is excellent talk. But where is the walk? Where is the mutual defense treaty Croatia and Kosovo? Nowhere to be found. Talk is cheap. Croatia is soft to Serbia and neutral to Kosovo and hard against Bosnia. The Bosnian policy is especially problematic. I will discuss it in second. There is no Croatia policy to be noticed towards Albania and North Macedonia, which are left to Serbia in the open Balkans or to Bulgaria to block. And even more worrying in Montenegro there is no Croatia visible. Nowhere despite Croatia being the big neighbor north and the EU border for Montenegro. And despite Serbia trying to roll back progress of NATO Montenegro intensively in last 5 years. But Croatia is absent and even not helpful with delaying the settlement of the border demarcation issue at Prevlaka and the Morinj prisoner camp and similar legacy issues of the Yugoslavian dissolution wars during which Montenegro was on the wrong side from 1991 to 1997 and Croatia has not forgotten nor forgiven. Fine but not so fine when we are now trying to get Montenegro in and Serbia trying to get Montenegro back and Croatia is fighting the shadow of the past. Sure all must be cleared and active and no in sleepwalking modus as Croatia is currently going and leaving Montenegro policy and media to Serbia domination is a adjunct failure of Croatian foreign policy and does not make anybody good of 1991 or 1992 just leads to all Europe loosing against the roll back effort of Russian and Serbia. But that is just the failures in rest of Balkans, worst Croatia failure is in Bosnia and indirect to Serbia so let us discuss this failures now. Before that one more thing. Croatia was included in NATO and Croatia not to disappear from Balkans but to award loyalty and good reform performance and to set a good example for all Balkans but sadly Croatia has some disappeared from the structures of SEE, mainly RCC and CEFTA and has focused a better life moving onwards and upwards inside the EU. Fine is you can improve yourself but countries rarely change their location or neighborhood. The absence of Croatia as left Serbia as the dominate power and economy in the remaining Western Balkans 6 and this has led to major misbalances as it was going on same time with rise of Putin 3rd time in Russia and especially Vucic getting to power in 2013 that is one of key reason for the mess we are in. Can Croatia take RCC and CEFTA and Western Balkans seriously and help to contain pro Russian Serbia seriously and help the 5 pro Western Balkans into EU and Bosnia and Kosovo obviously first in NATO and assist to roll out the Euro in Bosnia and Albania and North Macedonia parallel to Croatia Euro zone entry. And stop messing up Bosnia as if Croatia would not be a responsible EU and NATO member state but the Croatian Prime Minister a tribal chieftain of all Croatians wherever they live and a kind in big Ban of a ancient Avar tribe roaming in European step? We have enough of this nonsense of ancient historicism from Orban, no need to get the same from the heirs of Sanader and Tudjman. With all respect this tribal policy must stop. The task of a responsible EU and NATO state in terms of Bosnia is not to remake past post War compromises and mess up Bosnia in the process but to get Bosnia in NATO and so expand our security framework. Sure the rights of all Croatian in Bosnia must be protected but all Bosnias are more secure inside NATO no matter with ethnicity. And most Croatian Bosnians if not ever single one of them have anyhow Croatian and therefore EU citizenship. And many of them will leave to Croatia and Germany as many Croatians leave to Germany and Austria and elsewhere as that is simple economics as Croatia has not reduced taxes I advised 15 years ago and has not liberalized and privatized as you should have done as Croatia is at the edge of the EU every much so because Bosnia is not fully in NATO and EU. So fix all of that and do not mess up Bosnia instead as this is explosive toxic stuff. Dayton must be fixed only after NATO accession and no a 3rd entity for Croatian ethnicity is not the solution. Clearly a Austria style Federal system of the best way and you Croatia where is the Federal Croatia of 10 European regions? The centralism of Tudjman should be overcome 2 decades after his death. Sure he is the independence hero but his justification of French style centralism was maybe justified in war and reconstruction but certainly is no acceptable from of governance for a modern EU Member State Croatia. Fix that and fix it fast and so Federal Croatia is paving the way for Federal Bosnia and all in NATO and EU and that makes sense and than many Croatian will return to Croatia and Bosnia and more people will want to live in your wonderful country not just during the summer season. And same for as well amazing Bosnia. And that is the way for serious foreign policy. And get though with Serbia. Serbia EU Candidate Status must be frozen as Vucic has transformed Serbia into a Russian client state and you must discussed and demand that during the run of the Serbian elections in April 2022 to make sure Vucic is loosing and Serbia is returning to the West and starts to settled its bilateral issues with about every single neighboring state, staring from Kosovo to Croatia. You must make this a major topic in 2022 and lead the campaign for freezing Serbia EU candidate status and not mess up pro NATO Bosnia. Really Croatia needs better foreign policy and that is central for peace in European Balkans 2022.

Published by GunterFehlinger

Austrian Economist and pro NATO and pro European activist Podcast PaxEuropeana

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