Ex High Reps in BiH: Ideas of changing WB borders are the result of EU's neglect

NEWS 04.05.2021 19:59
Source: YouTube Screenshoot

The various non-papers offering solutions for the Western Balkans that include changes of borders are emerging because the European Union has been neglecting the region, which is extremely dangerous and can be a move towards retrograde ideas if the EU does not react, former international administrators in Bosnia, Miroslav Lajcak and Carl Bildt, warned on Tuesday.

Lajcak and Bildt, who both served the office of High Representative in BiH, spoke at a session called “Geopolitical Gambling in the Balkans” which was organised by the prestigious Italian Institute for International Political Studies.

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The two commented on a controversial non-paper, recently published by the Slovenian news portal necenzurirano.si, which sparked an uproar in the region as it 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.

“The idea of ​​redrawing the borders in the Balkans is not a new idea, it has existed for many years, but has somehow been brought to the forefront now,” said Lajcak. “I deeply disagree with this idea, I think it is extremely dangerous, it is a war provoking idea”

“With the implementation of this idea, we would be fulfilling the dream jointly dreamt by (Slobodan) Milosevic and (Franjo) Tudjman, and this is not something we want to do,” Lajcak said.

This idea must be rejected and it was strongly rejected in the region, he said, adding that the real question is why it reappeared.

“And the answer is that unfortunately, the vision of European membership for the Western Balkans has become more blurred, more distant and therefore also less motivating. As we are creating a void in the region, others are coming with other ideas,” he said.

For him, there is no other plan than plan A, which is the enlargement of the European Union and accepting the rest of the Balkan countries, Lajcak declared.

“If we are not serious with plan A, then people will come up with plan B which is exactly what this first paper is about,” he said.

Lajcak said he would not speculate who was behind these non-papers, but warned that “this is what Milosevic and Tudjman or Stalin did and we know what the consequences were. We should not encourage that.”

Bildt emphasized that the European Commission has lost focus on the Western Balkans, that the credibility of EU enlargement has been damaged and that all this has been reflected in BiH.

“The credibility of the enlargement process has eroded and that has impacted Bosnia as well. Because Bosnia is a complicated place to put it very mildly and no one had the illusion that it would be an easy place,” said Carl Bildt.

Bosnia is doing far better than Cyprus, but is not yet like Belgium, which is also a very complicated country, Bildt said.

“Things are moving slowly, and moving BiH in the right direction depends on a credible framework, and that is integration,” he said, offering the example of the Belfast riots to explain what happens when the credibility of a framework is lost. Cars were burning and the conflict started again, he said.

“I will not say that this will happen immediately in the Balkans, but if we don’t have the Balkans moving forward, there is a severe risk that it will move backwards. And that move forward depends on a more forceful engagement of EU members in the enlargement process,” Bildt said.

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