Has the EU actually resumed negotiations?

comment Western Balkans: Serbia and the eternal EU accession candidates

130,000 dead, millions of displaced persons and refugees, NATO air strikes and new borders are the result of the wars in the Western Balkans between 1991 and 2001. 30 years after their start, Slovenia and Croatia, two of the seven Yugoslavian successor states, are actually members of the European Union. Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the other hand, are still waiting at the back door of the EU.

The four former republics and an autonomous province of Yugoslavia, including Albania, represent the so-called Western Balkans - Balkan countries that are not members of the EU and that have been put off with an "EU perspective" for over a decade.

The "EU Perspective"

"EU perspective" is the favorite phrase of Western politicians when they visit the Western Balkans. But that no longer sounds encouraging to the local people, it just sounds cynical. Not only because the states of the Western Balkans are now de facto moving further and further away from the EU, both politically and socially. But also because there is obviously no real will to really deal with the Western Balkans in the EU, which is challenged with its own problems and is tired of enlargement.

The "EU perspective" for Serbia and the countries in the region today actually means: We pretend we still want to join the EU - and you pretend that you still want us.

In the name of stability

The central country of the Yugoslav civil war in the 1990s was Serbia, which is still at the center of events in the Western Balkans today. With around seven million inhabitants, it is the largest country in the region with an "EU perspective", but has problematic relationships with all the other Western Balkan states.

Serbia is crucial for the stability of the region, and as long as it pursued a reasonably peaceful regional policy, Brussels was also happy to turn a blind eye to the questionable domestic political developments in Serbia.

And this domestic policy has little to do with the "EU perspective". Not a single opposition party is represented in the parliament of the EU accession candidate because part of the opposition boycotted the parliamentary elections that they considered undemocratic last year. Now representatives of the European Parliament have to mediate in a dialogue between the Serbian government and the opposition about the conditions for fair elections.