The view of the European Parliament that Western Balkans is still far from the EU should be regarded as a message for their voters, taking into consideration the forthcoming elections to the EP, scheduled for May.
During the public hearing held in the EP last week, several members of this body said that not a single WB country “is close to meeting the EU criteria”.
“Let’s be honest, some progress has been made, but no WB country is close to meeting the requests and we are sorry to notice the stagnation“, said Christian Danielsson, Director – General of the Directorate for Neighborhood and Enlargement Policy at the EC.
Marko Kmezić, lecturer at the Center Southeast European Studies within the University of Graz, points out that this can only mean one – a message for WB voters.
“We also have to be aware that huge Euro-skepticism is currently popular. Besides, elections to the EP are approaching. Therefore, we should see that as a message”, says Kmezić.
Momčilo Radulović, President of the European Movement in Montenegro has similar opinion. Assessments and qualifications which are pretty negative should be interpreted in the context of the forthcoming elections.
“Negative atmosphere is dominant in the majority of EU States and that’s a fact. Citizens and voters have negative view on the accession process. So, all those statements have been made in the context of the forthocoming elections, where WB appears to be some sort of collateral damage. Hopefully, this negativity will disappear after the elections”, says Radulović.
Asked about the real progress of the region, Mr. Kmezić points out that, last year, the EC characterized all WB countries as “enslaved countries”. Does Brussels want to stay tuned to the integration process until the very end? Do they have any obligation, or are they willing to do that?
“This democracy problem is not present in the Balkan countries only. We’re not a phenomenon, it’s a global trend. And since we know that we aren’t the only ones, why would EU deal with that? If you ask people who deal with enlargement, they’ll tell you: You have clearly defined criteria. It’s up to you to meet them. Or not. If you want that, you will become EU Member State, guarantee. But if you don’t want it, we simply won’t do that for you”, says Kmezić.
Balkan countries are grabbing formal democracy, and they neglect the essential.
“We should have political elites that rule from the rule of law. As is seems to me, that doesn’t exist. There’s an ideology of European integration, and they are all elites that opt for integration and reforms with the aim of maintaining their own power”, says Kmezić.
On the other side, Radulović thinks that things have improved.
“Except for the problem with Kosovo, considerable progress has been made in many countries. Of course, there are also shortcomings, but not everywhere”.