Transactional policy or that of "open marriage"! Where America and the EU go wrong
The state of democracy and the influence of geopolitics in the region were topics that Ditmir Bushati discussed today at Public Square with his guest Florian Bieber, Director of the Center for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria, researcher and experienced expert on Western Balkans.
The interlocutors shared the opinion that we are in a moment of crisis for democracy, not only in the region, but in Europe and beyond.
"The transformative power of the EU membership process is missing in the region. We are not seeing countries becoming more democratic. If there are movements for democracy, they are usually not framed within the context of the EU integration process", Bieber emphasizes.
The citizens and civil society of the countries of the Western Balkans have lost the power of reaction, and this makes the EU itself responsible. Bieber brought to attention in this case that for the last time we had the reaction of North Macedonia with the fall of the government of Nikola Gruevski. This aroused great enthusiasm for the return of the country in the right direction towards European values, "but this argument is no longer working, as the EU itself often seems to be supporting these authoritarian tendencies by sacrificing the rule of law and democracy. ".
Bieber thinks that we have entered a more transactional phase of the exercise of foreign policy not only by the US, but also by the European Union itself, and this is particularly visible in Southeast Europe and the Western Balkans.
In this context, they also explain the approach of the European Union and the United States of America towards the Kosovo-Serbia conflict. Bieber says that the policy pursued by both the US and the EU is penalizing Kosovo, which is universally known to be oriented towards the West, in an effort to distance Serbia from Russia.
Bushati and Bieber share the opinion that many leaders of the Western Balkans are practicing a policy similar to "open marriages", referring here to numerous visits by political leaders of different continents, different international organizations, who speak more or less the same language as our leaders, because they are mostly interested in money, influence or sovereignty from the point of view of decision-making.
The question that naturally arises in this case is how to raise society's hope in this process and can democracy, national identity and the EU stay together? Undoubtedly, certain circumstances are required for this, Bushati and Bieber think, which currently do not exist, because the EU is investing in maintaining the current status-quo. Another problem which does not allow society to exert pressure on governments is the phenomenon of the movement of many citizens towards the EU.
Referring to the year 2030 as the deadline set for the membership of the Western Balkans in the union, Bieber says that "We have to be very careful when we set dates so that those deadlines are respected. Clear timelines must be defined about what countries and governments must fulfill and by what date and they stick to the planned deadlines".
Bushati and Bieber also discussed the elections for the European Parliament and the growth of populist parties in Europe. At this point, they estimate that this has a positive effect since expansion has already become a priority on the agenda. At the same time, the situation in Ukraine has produced a geopolitical situation that has not existed for at least a decade.