Why has Western Europe not been balkanized?

Comment: The Balkanization of Europe?

The European Community was renamed "European Union" in February 1992 in the pretty Dutch city of Maastricht. This confederation has long been a matter of course for its founding states in Western Europe. A political, economic and historical success story. But the downside of this success, which is all too often suppressed, is increasingly endangering its future.

Apparently, in the first few years after Maastricht, they were unable to recognize the EU's birth defects. If left untreated today, however, they could lead to the end of the Union. One of the original sins of the then emerging EU was its inability to correctly assess the Yugoslavia crisis at the time, to have a moderating effect on the conflicting parties and to contain the armed conflict. Even the former European Community in Yugoslavia represented the values ​​it invoked in an inconsistent and implausible manner.

Economic giant and political dwarf

In Maastricht, Germany transferred not only its economic strength but also its own historical weakness to the EU level. The newly formed confederation of states was - just like West Germany during the Cold War - an economic giant, but at the same time remained a dwarf in foreign policy.

This dwarf has barely grown in the past quarter century. Occasional therapies with foreign policy and security policy growth hormones have failed completely. And so there is still no consistent foreign policy line in the Balkans, for example. The Western Balkans are shaking again.

Divided internally, weak externally

The EU also lacks consensus on internal issues. The harshness of Germany towards the southern European states during the financial crisis and, on the other hand, the generosity towards the refugees may correspond to the current financial and humanitarian emotional state of the Germans. Both were poison for cohesion within the EU. Especially since all these decisions were forced under the pressure of events, they each came at the end of a long mistaken development in which no action was taken when there were still alternatives.

Dragoslav Dedović heads the Serbian editorial team

When Greece joined the euro zone, all members of the European currency club turned a blind eye. The same applies to the entire EU when Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia join the Union.

The Dublin regulation - refugees must stay where they first set foot on EU soil - primarily protected Germany and the rich countries of the north and instead overwhelmed the Mediterranean countries. The persistent ignoring of the looming refugee crisis in the south turned the Mediterranean into a mass grave and the Syrian tragedy into a pan-European refugee drama.

The American military logic, which was not always in the interests of the EU, led to a series of interventions. Its consequences were not only unimaginable destruction and the collapse of entire states in the EU's neighborhood, but also a de-solidarization within the EU. Solidarity with weaker member states or with refugees seem to have become foreign words in many places. The consequences are Brexit in London, Kaczyński in Warsaw, Orbàn in Budapest. Putin, Erdogan and Trump ante portas - that doesn't exactly make things any easier for Europe.

The EU about to collapse?

The current state of the EU is increasingly reminiscent of Yugoslavia before the collapse. The catastrophe in the former Tito-Land can be summed up succinctly: the economic crisis and the permanent reduction of societies to pure communities of descent. All political and economic problems were quickly reinterpreted as ethnic conflicts.

At that time it seemed like an atavism in the eyes of Western observers, a regrettable deviation from the mainstream of historical progress. Unfortunately, 25 years later, one has to state that the disintegration of Yugoslavia was obviously at the beginning and not the end of a development.

The liberal elites seem to have terribly underestimated the fears of the people in Western societies. Today nationalism is acceptable again even in the capitals of Western Europe. In Vienna it almost happened. Amsterdam and Paris may soon be their turn. It is telling that the western victors over National Socialism have evidently developed fewer social antibodies against modern camouflaged ethnic ideologies than Germany, the country of origin of the evil defeated more than 70 years ago.

And what's next?

The formula to save is actually relatively simple: a closed community of values ​​on the outside and solidarity on the inside. It is better to invest early than to intervene later. That costs significantly less in perspective. Provided you do it on time. Whether you rediscover the EU constitution that failed in 2005 or consider a core Europe model is rather irrelevant. Rather, the decisive factor is: Either the ability to act in foreign policy, solidarity with one another and an agreement on joint, solid budget management by consensus will be achieved, or the EU in its current form will perish. The clock is ticking.

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