Central and South Eastern Europe is frequently treated as an area an inherent feature of which is aggressive nationalisms. Within almost two centuries the region has undergone a stormy process of political fragmentation. If after the Congress of Vienna it was controlled by two great empires – the Austrian Empire and the Ottoman Porte, in the 2010s the same territory belongs to nineteen states. The reason for such an evolution of Central European societies was national movements driven by nationalist ideology, aiming at the establishment of independent national states. In the age of European integration which has already partly included Central and South Eastern Europe, a question arises if the state-forming factors have lost their dynamics. Should one still, even in the context of the EU membership, expect strong tensions of a nationalist character among particular countries? The article attempts to answer these questions through an analysis of three basic types of conflict situations, taking place in Central and South Eastern Europe, perceived from the legal and political perspective: lack of legal and political demands; attempts to change the legal status of an ethnic group; questioning the status of an independent state. In each case the description of mechanisms operating in a given conflict situation is accompanied by the analysis of a particular example. These are respectively: Roma in Hungary, the Hungarian minority in Romania, and the attitude of Romania to Moldova. The review of all the conflict situations in the context of European integration leads to a conclusion that the EU, by means of various tools and its supranational character, is able to exert a soothing influence on the majority of conflict situations. The Roma minority tensions in most countries make an exception. Most probably, they may function as catalysts in the development of extreme nationalist movements which only afterwards use anti-European slogans, call for the re-establishment of the unity with diasporas inhabiting neighbouring countries. Simultaneously, the EU provides neither institutional tools nor positive examples of solving the problem. Therefore, the significance of this question seems to be increasing because of great demographic dynamics of Roma population in Central and South Eastern Europe. Moreover, it will influence the future of Balkan and Central European nationalisms which may become marginalised or may strengthen their position.
Croatia is the only country of the Western Balkans which will soon enter the EU. It started the accession negotiations in 2005, and in December 2008 the talks were de facto stopped on the initiative of Slovenia, due to the unresolved disagreement between the two states over the sea borderline. Till the time Croatia managed to close some negotiation chapters and a further few to open. On principle the EC spoke positively about the directions of reforms carried out by the Croatian government, but a lot of problems remained unresolved at the time. Among them there are inefficient judiciary system and incompetent administration as well as low effectiveness in the fight with corruption and organised crime. Almost the whole year 2009 passed on Croatia’s attempts to solve the argument with Slovenia. Only at the end of the year, after the resignation of the former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, a new Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor led to the conclusion of the agreement on this issue and to the renewal of the membership talks with the EU. Soon we will be able to see not only the acceleration of Croatia’s accession negotiations, but also the actions of a newly elected President Sanader for the improvement of relations with Serbia, as the EU recommended. In the report on Croatia’s progress on the way to the EU from November 2010, the European Council stated that in the first quarter of the following year it would publish an additional document concerning the negotiations in the fields of judiciary and basic rights which the country had greatest difficulty with. In spite of the EC’s criticism in the announced report, in June 2011 the EC recommended the closing of the negotiations with Croatia in this and some other chapters, which soon led to the end of the negotiations. If after signing the accession treaty with Croatia, planned for December 2011 in Warsaw, there will not be any complications in its ratification by the EU states, this country will become the 28th EU member in June 2013. Croatia’s accession will be a clear sign that the process of EU enlargement is being continued. After entering the EU, this country will possibly maintain good relations with the EU leaders, but it may also be interested in the Central European or Mediterranean co-operation. Croatia’s membership will not have any visible effects for the functioning of the EU institutions or economy.
The current geopolitical location of the Republic of Macedonia does not leave the country any real alternative apart from looking for a strong partner, capa-ble of consolidating and strengthening its democracy and independence. At present only the integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions may usefully and for long discourage the neighbouring states from the attempts to interfere with internal affairs of the republic, which took place in the first half of the 1990s, and to provide the perspective of such economic development as in the states of Central and South Eastern Europe in the second half of the previ-ous decade.Macedonia (using the term “Macedonia,” the author means the Republic of Macedonia, also recognised by some states as Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia; any references to the geographical area also known as Mac-edonia will be clearly highlighted in the text) is comparatively close to the EU, much closer than the other states of the region (except for Croatia, which in the middle of 2013 will most probably become 28th EU member, and Mon-tenegro, which like Macedonia recently – since December 2010 – has had a status of a candidate state in the relations with the EU). Democratisation of the country has facilitated regular elections which currently fulfil the OSCE demands. Free market economy has been introduced although the corrup-tion level and non-transparent connections between the worlds of politics and lobbying groups have remained at an unsatisfactorily high level. Citizen and human rights are obeyed and the Albanian part of the society and the other minorities (e.g. Bosniaks, Serbs, Turks, Vlachs, Roma) are gradually being included in the state structures. The best example for it is election/parliamen-tarian coalitions (both in governments and in opposition) existing for many years and embracing the representatives of all major ethnic groups.Simultaneously, since the announcement of the independence in 1991 the country has been facing problems which endanger not only its stability but also that of the whole region, as well as further integration of the Republic of Macedonia with the EU. These challenges result from Macedonia’s specific geopolitical location, ethnic structure of the society and the neighbouring states’ claims. The major problems connected with the European integration take or took place independently of this process ( as far as it is possible in current international relations in Europe) – here one ought to mention the disagreement with Greece over the name of the Macedonian state as well as the conflict, which has already been quelled, between ethnic Albanians and the Slavs inhabiting Macedonia (the Macedonians in this text mean Orthodox Macedonian Slavs inhabiting the Republic of Macedonia; the Albanians, on the other hand, in this article are understood as an ethnic group which inhab-its the Republic of Macedonia, not the citizens of Albania or Kosovo).
After Slobodan Miloševic was overthrown in 2000, it was assumed that democratic parties would efficiently carry out the process of the overall reform which would result in Serbia’s membership in the Euro-Atlantic structures. However, the integration with the EU and NATO did not become the subject of all-party consensus. Against were the parties connected with Miloševic’s regime – the SRS and the SPS which were able to take advantage of social unrest and from 2002 were the largest force in the parliament. Also for the rightist party of Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica (2004-2008) the defence of territorial integrity and the fight for Kosovo and Montenegro’s further presence within the common state took priority over the fast integration with the EU. These parties were also against fulfilling the main EU condition – co-operation with the Tribunal in the Hague and settling accounts with the previous regime’s crimes. It resulted in the stagnation of the reform process and called into question the European orientation of the Serbian politics. As late as in 2008 in Serbia the government was established which would unambiguously opt for the acceleration of transformation. In consequence, the co-operation with the EU deepened. However, a long-lasting domination of Eurosceptic powers on the political stage had such effects that even this government did not decide to finally solve the problem of Kosovo and to normalise the relations with Pristina. Due to increasing pressure from the EU, for the next time Serbia faces the choice: to defend national interests in Kosovo or to accept the conditions of member states.
The subject of the article is Kosovo’s participation in the process of European integration. Starting with the perspective of Kosovo membership, declared by the EU, the analysis involves the specificity of Kosovo’s partnership in the Stabilisation and Association Process as well as the institutions for European integration of the Republic of Kosovo. Further, the article focuses on the factors conditioning the progress of the integration process, that is the controversy over Kosovo’s status, Serbia’s policy, serious economic difficulties, problems with guaranteeing the democratic character of Kosovo’s political system as well as the enlargement fatigue of the very EU. The last part of the article concentrates on the EU actions in Kosovo and concerns the financial help and the functioning of the EU structures. Finally, the author draws attention to the progress in Kosovo’s achieving the European standards. However, he indicates that it still remains an “unfinished state” which encounters numerous serious difficulties and faces a lack of EU member states’ agreement over its international legal status. According to the author, as a result of these circumstances the so called Kosovo’s European perspective remains a thing of the distant future.
Bosnia and Herzegovina functions on the basis of an international agreement called the Dayton peace agreement. The agreement ended the armed conflict but the last sixteen years of experience convince us that it has not been a good basis for establishing a functioning state. There has been no consensus between the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks about the existence of the state and no common vision of its development. On the other hand, possibilities of interference in the internal affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the international community (through the Office of the High Representative) have been used liberally. This concerns some fundamental questions of judiciary, executive and legislation. In this way the political elite bears no responsibility for the functioning of the state. Today we can speak of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sort of semi-protectorate under the supervision of international community. The implementation of necessary reforms is brought to a halt due to the fact that political elites are not interested in changing this status quo. In consequence, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been lagging behind in the EU accession process, depriving international community of influence on the course of events in the country. The EU accession is the only remaining tool that can be used to overcome the political elite’s resistance to reforms. At the same time, without the consensus of all interested parties regarding the existence of the state and its further development – any other efforts towards the integration with the EU become pointless.
In Montenegro, similarly to the majority of post-Communist states, the accession project enjoys the support both from the ruling political elite (which sees it as the chance for strengthening and legitimisation) and the majority of citizens (the support, though decreasing lately, still exceeds 70%), hoping for economic benefits but also for the distancing from the “Yugoslavian odium.” In Montenegro the accession has comparatively high chances of success, among others due to the lack of controversies over territorial issues, or more serious disagreements in the relations with neighbouring countries and finally, because of a small size and population of the country, which reduces the cost of modernisation actions. The country’s top position among the states striving for the EU membership is evident both from the status (since 17th December 2010 the country has been an official EU candidate) and the shape of the last annual EC report where it was admitted that 11 out of 35 chapters of the acquis demand “further serious efforts.” However, it is no coincidence that the issues of political order and the judiciary are among the fields which undergo the strictest EC suggestions. That is so because one of the phenomena of Montenegro’s political life is the fact that since the beginning of Yugoslavia’s disintegration in the early 1990s the power has been in the hands of one political party (since 1991 its name is the Democratic Party of Socialists) whose leader is Milo Djukanović: fivetimes Prime Minister, two-times President and one of the richest politicians of the world. Although neither the formal system shape nor the range of revealed cases of the breaking of the opposition’s political rights permits one to speak of a classic “political dictatorship,” most commentators agree that there is a iunctum between the position of the governing party and the alarming scale of corruption. Another phenomenon which has a huge influence on the political order in the country (and might, although does not have to, be the reason for delays on the way to the accession) is the existence of a considerable (almost 30% of the population) Serbian minority, mostly critical towards the attempts to build or strengthen the “Montenegrin national identity,” frustrated with the final separation of Montenegro from Serbia in 2006 and refusing the legality of Kosovo’s proclaimed independence. The question of the full recognition of the status quo of the republic by Montenegrin Serbs and the stance that they may take regarding the regional tensions connected with the future of Kosovo or Montenegro, might be of great importance for the stability of the country.
For over half a century Turkey has been striving to become an EU member. Nonetheless, the problem of serious democratic reforms which would bring Turkey closer to the Community was first taken up by a moderate Islamic Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the first years of his government (2002-2007) in particular, a lot of democratic reforms in Turkey were carried out under the EU pressure, for example private Kurdish courses as well as TV and radio programmes were allowed. Turkey governed by Erdoğan has begun opening to its neighbours. The question of the Armenians’ genocide from the beginning of the 20th century was more and more frequently becoming the subject of the public debate. Yet, in the recent years the process of the implementation of democratic reforms by Prime Minister Erdoğan has considerably weakened. Freedom of speech raises the most serious doubts. The Prime Minister of Turkey has also ceased to be interested in extending the Kurds’ rights. Moreover, he has threatened to freeze the relations with the EU if the Republic of Cyprus takes over the leadership in the EU Council in the second half of 2012. However, in spite of the fears as to Turkey’s giving up the EU aspirations, the priority of Prime Minister Erdoğan’s government should be a full EU membership. The evidence for it is not only the willingness to solve the Cypriot problem quickly but also the works on the new constitution which will introduce more democratic freedoms in Turkey, in accordance with the EU criteria. However, one should not expect the acceleration of the reforms. Having the perspective of a distant EU membership, the Prime Minister of Turkey will carry out the policy of small steps. He may also sacrifice his good relations with the EU for the sake of the internal policy. The key role in the process of Turkey’s integration with the EU will be also played by the attitude of European states (mainly France and Germany). Without the political will of these states, the chances for Turkey’s membership seem non-existent.