The European Union is putting down its flag on Bosnia and Kosovo in the finishing touches of its borders about 70 years since this union began.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, in what is a very historic day for the country, has been accepted earlier today as a candidate member by EU’s head of states.
There are four stages: applicant, candidate, negotiating, and member. Kosovo has just entered the first stage with it applying to join the European Union.
Both Kosovo and Bosnia have a very long way ahead to become a member, especially as Serbia has descended into becoming the little Lieutenant of Russia, at least in perception.
Russia loves frozen conflicts, and that’s precisely the tool they’re trying to use in regards to Serbia and Kosovo, which neither Russia nor Serbia recognizes as independent even though they defacto are.
In regards to Bosnia, the situation is even more unstable in theory because they’re made of three parts: Croats, Bosnians and Republica Serbska, or serbs.
Some troubling non-papers circulated this summer for Albania to ‘have’ Kosovo while Serbia gets Serbska, something that would potentially be very destabilizing for Bosnia while not ‘giving’ much to Albania since Kosovo – which to Albanians is in many ways like East Germany was to Germans – is fine, free and largely stable and doesn’t matter too much whether they’re fully independent or part of Albania.
Serbia however has very little room for real maneuver, beyond rhetorics. Any mess in Bosnia would drag in Croatia, which is superior militarily, as well as the European Union because Croatia is an EU member, in addition to Nato with Bosnia still having Nato troops.
Nato troops are also in Kosovo, so any war there would be a war against Nato. Even without Nato however, Turkey would definitely get involved on the side of Kosovo, as would Italy, and of course it’s the Balkans, so the risk would be global war.
The peaceful solution instead is Europe’s solution. The same way they got rid of their huge animosities, so here too: getting rid of messy borders through a grand union.
The Last Members?
Bosnia becoming a candidate member arguably states that this is union land, but that’s official only once they become a member.
Some argue the way their constitution is set up, requiring a Croat, Bosnian and Serb as a President of three, is not compatible with EU human rights.
However, if Bosnia does really reach the stage where it is acceptable as a member, human rights are not quite written by bots, but by humans. There is no computer that says no, there is instead human judgment that can very easily address this matter, including declaring that it is compatible due to the specific circumstances.
The far harder task therefore than these ‘gotchas’ is actually getting their economy to an acceptable level, a process that will probably take at least a decade for ‘negotiating’ status.
For Kosovo, the task is complex to even get to candidate status. Five EU countries do not recognize it, all for petty reasons.
Spain, first of all, does not recognize it because of Catalonia. Relations between Spain and Albania are good, maybe even excellent. They’re sort of at the other side of the continent, so something like Albania is probably just coming on the map for them, but recognizing there was an ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, and therefore the situation is very different from Catalonia, probably wouldn’t be too hard for Spain.
Romania doesn’t recognize it either because they claim they too have secessionist minorities, which are not even antagonistic or really demanding independence.
So the real reason is that Romania and Albania don’t really have any interactions. They’re a bit too far, and sort of in the wrong direction from Albania, so this non-recognition is more a left over from bordering Serbia, and so hearing more of their propaganda.
It is unlikely however that Romania would really stand in the way, not least because they’d be accused of doing Russia’s bidding and they don’t seem to like Russia much. Plus, non-existent connections between Albania and Romania are starting to become sort of existent, so there is an ongoing change of attitudes from what we can see.
All of the above can be written pretty much to the dot for Slovakia. They probably never met an Albanian, but they were under Russia and so may be more susceptible to Russian propaganda.
In addition, while Albanians and Romanians are now starting to mingle a bit, like in London for example, connections are still kind of non-existent with Slovakia, although you can probably spot Slovakian tourists in Albania’s beaches. However, they too wouldn’t really stand on the way because if all Europe agrees, how can this tiny country stand in the way.
Greece is the final one that doesn’t recognize Kosovo and the problem here may be the reverse: they’re too close to Albania, as in neighbors.
There are tons of Albanians in Greece, both immigrants and inhabitants since ancient times. Likewise there are Greeks of the latter in Albania, as well as tourists.
These two countries, and the families at the border, were unfortunately divided for half a century under communism with razor wires, but now, the people in some ways have become sort of one and the people themself are very friendly to each other.
At a government level it is a bit different. The Greek government comes across as cold and a bit arrogant, although the two governments do have good relations which appear to be improving further.
The Greek official reason for not recognizing Kosovo is Northern Cyprus, but that was an invasion by a far greater power next door, while Kosovo is more like if Greece liberated Northern Cyprus.
So the real reason is that Greece puts Serbia above Albania, and that too probably can’t stand once this Kosovo application comes to a vote.
The complexities are self evident, however, so just getting a candidate status would be a huge achievement for Kosovo, and the entire region.
Not a Queue
Joining the European Union is not quite a queue. Turkey has applied decades ago and have even reached negotiating status, but those negotiations are now largely frozen. So Turkey may now fit more with a sort of alliance of three empires with Turkey, UK and EU, as well as Russia one day if they finally realize nationalism is self-destructive.
Georgia has applied, but without Turkey can they really join. They’d have no border with an EU territory except through water, but the Romans did go up to Baku in Azerbaijan so arguably that’s the physical borders of Europe, though not EU most probably anytime soon.
Ukraine has recently become a candidate member, with Moldova. If the war stops, a huge reconstruction effort is expected, potentially making them ready for member status even before any of the others waiting, especially considering what they’ve gone through.
It’s unlikely however the war will stop anytime soon, with Ukraine instead preparing for a large Russian offensive this February.
Serbia used to be the frontrunner to join, together with Montenegro, but then it went off to recently sign some consultation agreement with Russia, a country that has been cut off from EU.
Considering every member has a veto, the membership of Serbia is a potentially highly political matter, requiring an end to their neutrality as they can not of course veto anything in the EU concerning Russia.
The only actual candidates for membership, therefore, currently are Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia.
The European Union ‘needs’ all three, especially Montenegro and Albania. The latter drags in North Macedonia because at the eastern border of Albania and the western border of Macedonia, they’re all Albanians and you have Macedonians on the Albanian side, Golloborc they call themself. You don’t therefore really want a border between the two, but if Macedonia goes completely in the wrong direction, then what can you do. That is not however likely, especially if Russian meddling there is counteracted.
In Montenegro there are tensions as well with Serbia, though far less than with Serbia’s other neighbors and more in cultural way. There’s a sizable minority of Albanians in Montenegro as well, in Montenegro’s south, with the 1912 drawn borders in London leaving out many Albanians from Albania proper.
Finally where Albania is concerned there’s no issues at all from an EU perspective politically. Economically, it used to have no infrastructure, but that has fast been changing with a train line being built between Tirana and the ancient seashore city of Duress among many other developments that are pretty quickly turning Albania into a very European country.
The plan here would be to connect Greece with ‘continental’ Europe. The initial idea was to go from Greece to Serbia to Hungary, and then ‘Europe,’ but they both have become problem countries and it is not clear how stable that would be from the perspective of decades.
Instead, you can go from Greece, to Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, and then you’re in ‘Europe’ as you connect there with the already established train lines and trade routes.
In a good time, both of these lines can be done. The latter would be on the seashores, so can have use even just for the touristic night train. You’d in addition connect all these ports, and just through that you’d probably get a big boost.
The only weakling here from the perspective of long term, can potentially be Montenegro in regards to changing alliances, but this is a small country with an Albanian minority that very much looks to the west, and therefore it can become a stable proper European country that is firmly within and of the union.
Since Croatia has now built a bridge that bypasses Bosnia, these plans can go into action even now, and arguably are going into action as the bridge shows.
This would therefore deliver a very stable corridor that within a decade can become as part of the EU as Poland or that whole Eastern block that was brought in.
Italy arguably would be the chief beneficiary, but this is an entire coastline that has been cutoff for half a century, so all of EU should benefit greatly.
And it is something that can be done fairly quickly, with the population of Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia combined being just five million, or 1% of the EU for potentially huge benefit.
In addition, if Serbia sees how Albania will also progress quickly after Croatia, maybe they’ll stop their nationalism.
The Final Form?
The European Union has recently announced a $300 billion ‘Belt and Roads’ sort of project.
With their internal borders reaching their conclusion, leaving only the negotiating part in addition to the question of whether landlocked Serbia will be left gray like Switzerland or otherwise, the EU is starting to look at its actual neighbors as well as potentially foreign policy.
North Africa, as well as wider Africa, the sandwiched Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as the stanis, especially Kazakhstan, are the nearest such neighbors in addition to the Orient if it ever becomes such again.
The Union therefore is starting to gain agency and it may well be how the current design stays for some time, though maybe with some reforms regarding when there should be veto rights for all.
That’s a detailed, intricate matter, that nonetheless still largely keeps the design of the elected heads of state sitting in an Arthur’s round table, the Council, to finalize decisions with the continental civil service doing much of the nitty gritty while member states naturally have input.
And so Europe is coming into one, as it has been for much of time, interrupted by the wars of Romanticism of the past century and 19th century.
Now it is once again taking its natural peaceful shape, with such union previously lasting for about a thousand years.
Whether this too will greet 3000s, is anyone’s guess, but it appears Europeans can be at peace with each other only under a design like this, and therefore the EU, especially in the Balkans, is a peace project.
Only harm to Europeans want those that are against it in principle, and no one should care whether that’s due to stupidity or that virus of Romanticism, or malintent.
Europe is also of course an economic project. United, an entire continent, we can probably go to Mars. UK will never make it to there on its own.
And so Europe, currently, has a reputation of almost glory outside its borders. While US hardly can be mentioned, Europe is loved everywhere, including in Moscow.
For they see the great achievements of the past just 30 years that have lifted, what was a starving country in the 90s like Estonia, into a first class nation.
It is for this Europe that Ukrainians fight, not for nationalism or for ‘Ukraine’ as such, but to be part of this union and with it go where it will.
For that, the Western Europe that came up with this project and funded it, first for peace between themselves, should be very proud.
As it may well be, after all those troubles of Romanticism, that a solution has been found to feel even glory.
Not least because, this state of peace and prosperity to the highest standards for a continent once brutally divided, is glorious.
Plus, the EU in theory has room for at least $30 trillion in debt as EU institutions have zero debt. So UK one day might find what a colossal mistake they made after investing so much in what has turned out to be very fine.