“The Balkan Six and their regimes are bound by one thing – corruption”: Today’s interlocutors on the achievements of the Western Balkans leaders’ summit in Kotor

The leaders of the Western Balkans Six and senior EU and US officials bought themselves on Thursday, May 16, in Kotor at the summit on the Growth Plan for the Western Balkans, which was held under the slogan “One region – a common vision”. The summit was opened by Montenegrin Prime Minister Milojko Spajic, and besides the hosts, the summit was attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, prime ministers of Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia, Albin Kurti, Edi Rama and Talat Xhaferi, as well as the Chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers Borjana Krishto.

After the summit, the leaders signed a joint 16-point statement.

The statement, among other things, emphasizes the commitment to continue cooperation in the region, as well as to use the renewed momentum in the EU enlargement policy.

“One region – a common vision at least an ideal”
Naim Leo Beshiri, director of the Institute for European Affairs, told our newspaper that although the declaration builds on previous agreements in order to keep the Berlin Process alive, there is an all-pervading sentence in almost all documents in the region, which entail the European path.

The sentence is roughly, says Beshiri, that as we introduce new competencies, obligations and hopes, we are constantly reminding the political elites of the five states and one star that they must work on the implementation of previous agreements.

“In other words, just as there is fatigue among citizens in the region from the improper reforms of their own authorities, so in Brussels they are tired of having to remind little by little that the agreement reached last year was not implemented,” Beshiri says.

The main reason, he explains, is that none of the pretenders to EU membership who sits at the table has won the professionalism, independence and independence of experts in the judiciary, public administration and local self-governments.

As he says, if the policies are not implemented in accordance with the law, which includes numerous strategies and their action plans, but wait for the amen or at least the nod of the rulers, Brussels will have to appeal to the famous political will.

“Apart from declaratively in Montenegro, it really doesn’t exist anywhere else. In BiH, the disunity of authorities at so many levels prevents even the simplest decisions regarding fundamental rights and institutional competence, which is also stated as an asterisk in the declaration. The political turmoil and return to power of the highly corrupt VMRO-DPMNE in (Northern) Meccadonia calls into question the legacy of (Zoran) Zaev and the peace deal with Greece. Kosovo and Albania are in the same relationship with populist leaders who cannot break with internal problems. Rama with extremely high corruption and organized crime, and Kurti with populist ideas that help Vucic not to form the issue of the Community of Municipalities with a majority Serb population. In the end, Vucic has the characteristics of all the authorities in the region except the one he wants to see his country in the EU. On top of that, a negative campaign against the EU and pro-Russian, and recently pro-Chinese, prevents an informed debate among Serbian citizens about the future of the country,” Beshiri emphasizes.

As he adds, when we take into account the internal and interstate problems in the region, the slogan “One region, common vision” is at least an ideal to strive for, and that we are light years away from there.

“I appreciate the enthusiasm of many that through the small things we should build the bigger picture. That by raising economic power we can reach the European values on which the EU alliance is based,” Beshiri says.

“The government will continue to take care of their businesses.”
However, he continues, this Balkan six and their regimes are bound by one thing — corruption. This unworthiness has brought them together in Montenegro, as well as the promise of billions that the EU will favorably lend and give to the citizens of the region, and who will receive little kajmak in return.

“Regimes will continue to take care of their businesses at far higher prices, play wherever possible, and continue to steal the future of newborn children,” he says.

In his opinion, without a clear policy of sanctions against corrupt regimes, those that organize organized crime, which extinguish freedom of media, assembly and speech and that threaten democratic electoral processes, the EU will become an accomplice to the decline of the Western Balkan countries.

“It is important that Brussels and other European cities understand that thieves will say everything, even that they are united and have a common vision, as long as the money lies in their account, while on the other side they will populistly spend money on national stadiums, megalomaniac construction projects and other wastethat do not have a citizen in the center of their attention,” our interlocutor emphasizes.

Until it is understood that the authorities do not share values, but a piece of the cake they think belongs to them, it will be difficult for the EU to bring about a lasting sustainable peace.

“This is still, I hope, the ultimate goal of joining the EU,” says Danas’s interlocutor.

All attention is placed on concrete measures and improvement of the environment
For Milan Antonijevic, a lawyer and expert on European integration, the expectations of this summit are like “as these 11 points say – clear, concrete, with deadlines that have been accepted by everyone in the Western Balkans, as well as the European Union”.

“All attention has been placed on concrete measures and improving the business environment and reforms, including digitalization. After the implementation and implementation of all the points of this declaration, we will see a further changed region, with the free flow of goods, capital, services and labor. It is also positive that most of the points of the declaration are looking for a solution on how to make the region more attractive for investments, not only foreign, but also domestic, coming from our region, with an emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises,” antonijevic explains.

He adds that he sees all this as an exercise, i.e., adapting and preparing for the fierce competition that exists within the European Union, which drives this community of states under the EU flag to constant growth and sustainable development, as defined by the United Nations.

“The obligations of our countries and values, from the rule of law to democratization are also hidden in this document, in the principle of merit-based accession during this process. So it’s all there and there’s not a single point that one of the signatories can be against. What would be said in the courtroom and in the lawsuit – indisputable,” says our interlocutor.

As he notes, they all signed a statement, and some made statements in which they tried to challenge the other side.

“It is good that the Declaration remains behind everything, without any daily policy, but as a support to the Growth Plan that comes from the European Union,” antonijevic said.

“Resolution on Srebrenica – a two-country issue”
This year’s summit passed in the light of the announced Resolution on Srebrenica, which for days pro-regime media have reported that Montenegro, which will vote for Resolcuia, “betrayed Serbia”.

According to Antonijevic, Srebrenica is an internal issue of the two Western Balkan countries.

“In short, Serbia has clear obligations arising from the judgment of the International Court of Justice, as well as from the judgments of the Hague Tribunal, and the RESOLUTION of the UN General Assembly, whether adopted or not, does not change anything. It has been clearly adjudicated about reparations, there are none, it is clearly stated that there is no collective guilt, and Republika Srpska did not originate from genocide and this is not stated anywhere, and therefore there is no basis for revision of the Dayton Agreement that guarantees the existence of Republika Srpska, just as there is no basis for revising the judgment of the International Court of Justice, which is clear on all these issues.”, he explains.

It is not necessary, antonijevic says, to load here any policy, except economic, and everything is aligned with the Berlin Process and the obligations that the signatories have already assumed there.

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