The crises in the Balkans is increasing

The crises in the Balkans is increasing

© Picture Alliance
The Balkans belongs back on the agenda. The crises in the Balkans are increasing. This is dangerous for the EU.. Problem nationalism: Albanian football fans celebrate the provocation of Olsi Rama, brother of the Prime Minister Edi Rama. This had controlled a drone with a large Albanian flag in the match against Serbia through the stadium.

At the outbreak of the Yugoslav succession wars Then in 1991 former EU Council President Jacques Poos proclaimed "the hour of Europe." But the Balkans was a nightmare instead of Europe, with the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, with more than a hundred thousand deaths and millions of refugees, many of whom found refuge in Germany. Only the intervention of the United States ended the battles for the Srebrenica genocide stands as a symbol of terror. Although since then at peace, but it is a "cold peace" that at any time could become a hot war again. Because none of the fundamental problems of the region has been solved: the unresolved national question of Albanians, Serbs and Croats; the miserable economic situation and the horrendous unemployment; and contiguous with both close involvement of political power and organized crime in almost all Balkan countries.

In Macedonia, 18 people died recently in a shootout between police and ethnic Albanian extremists; after weeks of mass protests against the increasingly authoritarian government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski led by EU mediation now an agreement on elections. Earlier this year, directed the ever-growing requests for asylum from Kosovo attention to the devastating conditions in the recent Balkan country. In Bosnia cemented by mass social protests, the parliamentary elections in late 2014, lasting for twenty years rule of the ethnic parties, with the risk of a creeping state failure. In Romania, finally, the prosecutor investigating Prime Minister Victor Ponta for corruption and tax evasion.

These few headlines cast a revealing light on the situation in this strategically important neighboring European region, but also to the failure of the European Union in its "backyard". The problems of the region at a glance:

The National Question
The bloody incident in Macedonia, especially the "Albanian question" again brought back to consciousness from which it was at least never disappeared in the heart of most Albanians. Only about half of ethnic Albanians living in Albania, the other split between the majority Albanian populated Kosovo and Macedonia, where they constitute about one third of the population. Your co-existence in a "Greater Albania" is an old dream, which would however only be realized with significant boundary changes and massive resistance against the neighbors. Another unsolved national problem is the future of the "Republika Srpska" in the Bosnian federation, whose inhabitants would be sooner rather than connect to the Serbian motherland. The same applies to the Bosnian Croats.

The economic situation
Almost all Balkan countries, including EU members Romania and Bulgaria, are among the almshouses Europe. Their average income is even far below the central European candidate countries like Poland and Hungary, in many cases there is bare poverty. Economic progress, there have been few developments since the end of the wars in Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedonia, youth unemployment is over 50 percent, which explains the desire to emigrate. After a FES study contributes nearly half of the young people in the Balkans with the thought of emigration. At the top are Albania with 66.7 percent, Kosovo (55.1 percent), Macedonia (52.8 percent) and Bosnia with 49.2 percent.

Organised crime
The 1999 herbeigebombte of NATO Kosovo's independence has created, according to a stationed there BND employee a state "in which organized crime is the form of government". The country is a major transit point for heroin from Afghanistan to Europe and much of the political elite is in these and similar transactions, such as trafficking in human organs, involved or does it cover (the current foreign and former Prime Minister Hashim Taci threatens so before an indictment the International Court of Justice in The Hague). Although since 1999 under international supervision with 1,800 EU policemen on site and massive economic aid, it is far from the rule of law and lives a third of the population below the poverty line. No wonder that the urge to Europe increases, especially since half the population is under 25 years old and high population growth will exacerbate the problems in the future.

After the pitiful failure in the wars of the 1990s the EU had assumed responsibility for democratization and reconstruction in the Western Balkans. In part, this was done directly in the form of quasi-protectorates, such as Bosnia and Kosovo, some with massive presence, as in Macedonia. But neither prevails stability, yet there is economic development in this region, which is increasingly coming back into the geopolitical vision of other powers such as the USA, Russia and Turkey. "The situation (in Kosovo) is worse than before the European mission," wrote Andrea Capussela, former employee of the international administration. The reason may lie in the words of the Kosovan political scientist Belul Beqaj that "wanted to Europeanize those Kosovo, have balkanized itself".

Not only in Kosovo the EU's balance sheet is unsatisfactory: On the plus side is the top priority of the fact that peace has been preserved - no small fact in the face of just committed the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica. And the poisoned relations between Serbia and its former Kosovo territory Brussels has successfully built bridges.

However, there has been in spite of massive European assistance in the region hardly economic progress. And of real reforms towards rule of law and fighting corruption one is in most countries - far away - even in the EU member states Romania and Bulgaria. The reason: As long as the EU money is going, there is no reason for the corrupt elites to change the comfortable for you system. Would you but stop the cash, so there is a danger of a renewed eruption of violence. This may the EU but not risk, because it does not have a "soft power" the necessary "hard power", ie military means but not the will to their use. NATO, ie the USA, would have to step in again. Whether the Americans would be willing to do, may be doubted considering its intervention fatigue after the bad experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Russian and the Turkish option
For Serbs, Bulgarians and Macedonians there's also the "Russian option". Although this option is rarely officially mentioned, but it is considered in nationalist circles as a card up his sleeve if the EU should make excessive demands. Moscow has also in the media landscape of Serbia and Montenegro through increasing influence. Energy policy needs the most Balkan countries are already dependent on Russia and this would be enhanced by the planned construction of Russia the "Turkish Stream pipeline". In the strongly Islamic countries Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia, meanwhile, grows the influence of Turkey, turning away more and more of Europe and is unconditional local elites as opposed to the EU.

Brussels has opened up the prospect of EU membership more than ten years ago all the Balkan countries. But in Central Europe and the Baltics so successful instrument enlargement policy has failed in the Balkans, with the exception of Serbia so far. One reason is that the EU has no "Common Foreign and Security Policy", worthy of the name. The key actors are still the nation states, and these are - particularly Berlin and Paris - otherwise engaged: with Greece, Ukraine, Iran. Is not changed by the recent lightning visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Belgrade and Tirana little. But the neglect of the Balkans could retaliate soon: Another trouble spot in its immediate neighborhood, Europe can not afford.
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