Daniel Serwer: WB borders won't change but promoting that idea is destabilising

NEWS 04.05.2021 21:30

The "terrible ideas" of redrawing borders in the Western Balkans from a non-paper that recently caused an uproar in the region will never be implemented but it is still “very destabilising” to promote them, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies professor, Daniel Serwer, told N1.

Serwer was referring to the controversial non-paper which was recently published by the Slovenian news portal necenzurirano.si, which proposes Kosovo joining Albania and Serbia annexing parts of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity, while the mostly Croat-populated parts of southern Bosnia and Herzegovina would become part of Croatia.

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According to the Slovenian news portal, the country’s PM, Janez Jansa, sent the document to Brussels. Jansa denied those claims.

The reason why such non-papers are causing an uproar is that they support “terrible ideas” that have been repeatedly rejected and that this is being done in a format that is being used by diplomats to a great extent, he explained.

“But it is important to recognise that anyone could write a non-paper,” the professor said, noting that he also wrote one which is “diametrically opposed” to this one and another one that Croatia sent to the EU previously.

Serwer said he is glad about recent statements by German Foreign Affairs Minister, Heiko Maas, who said that Germany strongly rejects any redrawing of Western Balkan borders. The United States also said that it would never support such an initiative in the Western Balkans, he noted.

“It’s not going to happen. But it’s very destabilising even to promote these ideas. And I have to doubt the good will of those who continue to put them forth,” he said.

“The idea of completing the process of the dissolution of former Yugoslavia is not one I completely disagree with,” he said, but explained that the process should be completed “with the creation of nothing but liberal democracies that can qualify for membership in NATO and the European Union.”

This would imply states where “everybody has equal rights, with freedom of the press and independent judiciaries (…). The Copenhagen criteria is really very clear, and efforts to escape them and still make your way to the European Union are a grave mistake,” he said.

As for the non-paper which Croatia sent to the EU’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, Serwer said that it has an ulterior motive.

“I am really tired of the efforts by a rather small population in Bosnia and Herzegovina to gain essentially a separate entity,” he said, referring to the political leadership of Bosnian Croats.

This is the true purpose of the Croatian non-paper, he said – “it’s the idea that only Croats should for Croat representatives at all levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

“That’s not a liberal democratic system. That’s a system of ethnic identification,” he said, calling it “unacceptable in most of Europe.”

Serwer argued that implementing the ideas of this non-paper is a way of “keeping Bosnia and Herzegovina out (of the EU) forever.”

More on the various non-papers on the Western Balkans, the rhetoric of uniting all Serbs into one country which is coming from some Serbian officials, the overall situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and what role the international community should play in the country, can be seen in the full interview in the video above.

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