The Result of Nationalism – Great Britain Might Have to Fear Dissolution

After Tito’s death, Yugoslavia was for a while headed by Milosevic, who was a staunch nationalist. He started with mild and ended with wild attacks against his own peoples. The result: Yugoslavia had been dismantled by themselves, and the historical core is now Serbia. Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina split off as independent states, and so did Kosovo, after a particularly bloody and cruel war against them. Still today Serbia claims that Kosovo is a part of its state territory, a more hypothetical claim. Yugoslavia, a country with approx. 25 mill. inhabitants, ended up in seven independent countries, of which Serbia, the ex-Yugoslavian core, has around 8 millions.

There are also many historical examples of secessions, also in Europe, or of intended secessions, at least by a part of the population – like Catalonia or the Basques from Spain, where the will to go for one’s own is already anchored in the center of the political spectrum. This was and is triggered by the impression of lacking dialogue and what is called nationalism by the central state. In turn, it triggered nationaism in the periphery of the country. While Madrid can have hope, as there is a constructive discussion about the role of the state and in the direction of a de-facto-federalism, Yugoslavia ended in wars and armed conflicts and therefore broke in pieces. Now the perspective of the European Union is a kind of federalist vision for the citizens of the Balkan states, identified with peace, freedom, human rights, the rule of law, and a functioning economy.

How Great Britain will develop? For London, there is the big danger that if the British Government stresses national issues too much, then parts of the UK like Scotland or Northern Ireland may be lost. This would have also repercussions on Wales. Why? It became evident with the Brexit referendum that from England there was exercised too much pressure (or power) for the whole country, e.g. by the simplified form of the referendum question. At the same time, this discussion is held, or tolerated, by the Government, in a nationalist mode. Let us remember only the sounds of Lord Howard, a leading Tory, when threatening Spain wit a British Armada comparable to the one to the Falklands many years ago under Mararet Thatcher. Incredibly, he forgot to mention that the latter wa the case as Argentinian dictatorship troops occupied the Falklands, and Gibraltar was never occupied by the Spanish. The Spanish only wanted, with full justification, a clear position of the UK in the Brexit talks, on the issue „Gibraltar and Single Market“, which is for evident reasons of high interest for Spain. Should they re-start with border controls? Gibraltar has voted with more than 95% against Brexit, and it was for decades not part of the EU, as the UK Government determined so, and became a member of the EU (as part of the UK) only after a European Court of Justice decision initiated by ist own government.

History shows us that enlightened, democratic Europeans are well able to replace their home capital by a regional capital (until now) and the European fabric above – a fabric which is neither imperialist nor violent nor nationalist. This fits excellently to the case of Scotland and Northern Ireland, which might break away from Great Britain in the vears after the Brexit. However, it might occur that Brexit won’t happen, as there may be grave economic distortions to the detriment of the UK. I am still full of hope of a kind of peaceful revolution by the people who should know it: scientists, university people, youth, company owners – and if you look at the Brexit results, altogether the open and more intelligent people.

The result of the equation „the more nationalist, the more states at the end“ might be followed at a significant change in the European map, like in Yugoslavia. This is undoubtedly the long-term tendency. If you listen to some Brexiteers, you can express your pity that due to the bloody EU they were not any more able to go tiger-hunting for the weekend to Eshnapur.

On the long term, the overall trend is against the national states in the EU – which all come from a certain period in the past. They will continue to serve as administrative levels – no problem with this. Because who is in an overall love to his respective administrative levels, e.g. the Regierungspräsidium Tübingen (which is one of my administrative levels) …  So in order to prevent the breakup of other countries, we need sound regional competences, a European federalism (with the subsidiarity principle!), and, why not, constitutional and cultural patriotism. But no nationalism at all. In four day, the French people will have defeated these ghosts from the past, after the Austrians, the Dutch, and the next ones will be the Germans in September 2017.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka (European Union Foreign Affairs Journal)





Finally: The EU Reacted Strongly. United we Stand, Divided we Fall.

Finally, the EU has reacted in a rather strong way. Today, 31st Jan., 2017, in the afternoon the EU Council President, the former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, wrote an open letter to his 27 colleagues, as a Jingle for the forthcoming EU Summit Meeting in Malta next weekend. I wish this letter a world-wide distribution, and it goes exctly in the direction of two articles of John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus from Washington D.C., and myself in the next EUFAJ which will appear in some days. What is Donald Tusk’s letter about? Here is the full text:

„Dear colleagues,

In order to best prepare our discussion in Malta about the future of the European Union of 27 member states, and in light of the conversations I have had with some of you, let me put forward a few reflections that I believe most of us share.

The challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome. Today we are dealing with three threats, which have previously not occurred, at least not on such a scale.

The first threat, an external one, is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly, let us call it, assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable. For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.

The second threat, an internal one, is connected with the rise in anti-EU, nationalist, increasingly xenophobic sentiment in the EU itself. National egoism is also becoming an attractive alternative to integration. In addition, centrifugal tendencies feed on mistakes made by those, for whom ideology and institutions have become more important than the interests and emotions of the people.

The third threat is the state of mind of the pro-European elites. A decline of faith in political integration, submission to populist arguments as well as doubt in the fundamental values of liberal democracy are all increasingly visible.

In a world full of tension and confrontation, what is needed is courage, determination and political solidarity of Europeans. Without them we will not survive. If we do not believe in ourselves, in the deeper purpose of integration, why should anyone else? In Rome we should renew this declaration of faith. In today’s world of states-continents with hundreds of millions of inhabitants, European countries taken separately have little weight. But the EU has demographic and economic potential, which makes it a partner equal to the largest powers. For this reason, the most important signal that should come out of Rome is that of readiness of the 27 to be united. A signal that we not only must, but we want to be united.

Let us show our European pride. If we pretend we cannot hear the words and we do not notice the decisions aimed against the EU and our future, people will stop treating Europe as their wider homeland. Equally dangerously, global partners will cease to respect us. Objectively speaking, there is no reason why Europe and its leaders should pander to external powers and their rulers. I know that in politics, the argument of dignity must not be overused, as it often leads to conflict and negative emotions. But today we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe – regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey. Therefore, let us have the courage to be proud of our own achievements, which have made our continent the best place on Earth. Let us have the courage to oppose the rhetoric of demagogues, who claim that European integration is beneficial only to the elites, that ordinary people have only suffered as its result, and that countries will cope better on their own, rather than together.

We must look to the future – this was your most frequent request in our consultations over the past months. And there is no doubt about it. But we should never, under any circumstances, forget about the most important reasons why 60 years ago we decided to unite Europe. We often hear the argument that the memory of the past tragedies of a divided Europe is no longer an argument, that new generations do not remember the sources of our inspiration. But amnesia does not invalidate these inspirations, nor does it relieve us of our duty to continuously recall the tragic lessons of a divided Europe. In Rome, we should strongly reiterate these two basic, yet forgotten, truths: firstly, we have united in order to avoid another historic catastrophe, and secondly, that the times of European unity have been the best times in all of Europe’s centuries-long history. It must be made crystal clear that the disintegration of the European Union will not lead to the restoration of some mythical, full sovereignty of its member states, but to their real and factual dependence on the great superpowers: the United States, Russia and China. Only together can we be fully independent.

We must therefore take assertive and spectacular steps that would change the collective emotions and revive the aspiration to raise European integration to the next level. In order to do this, we must restore the sense of external and internal security as well as socio-economic welfare for European citizens. This requires a definitive reinforcement of the EU external borders; improved cooperation of services responsible for combating terrorism and protecting order and peace within the border-free area; an increase in defence spending; strengthening the foreign policy of the EU as a whole as well as better coordinating individual member states‘ foreign policies; and last but not least fostering investment, social inclusion, growth, employment, reaping the benefits of technological change and convergence in both the euro area and the whole of Europe.

We should use the change in the trade strategy of the US to the EU’s advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time. The European Union should not abandon its role as a trade superpower which is open to others, while protecting its own citizens and businesses, and remembering that free trade means fair trade. We should also firmly defend the international order based on the rule of law. We cannot surrender to those who want to weaken or invalidate the Transatlantic bond, without which global order and peace cannot survive. We should remind our American friends of their own motto: United we stand, divided we fall“.

I really like this Open Letter – finally the EU gets a spine of steel. Donald Tusk Shows that he is a leader, and I hope he remains still a while in his present Job in the future, too.

It is not by chance that Donald Trump is mentioned in one line with questionable presidents like the ones in Turkey or Russia. This is really a shame for an American president. We all in Europe should not be passive in the attempts of the conscient Americans to stand and finally overcome this Person. He has so Little political and civic education, that his advisors seem to have free way, much to the pleasure of the president who thinks he can run a complicated state like a billionaire’s shop.

What is worst: The US have always been at the side of European integration, and of course we had some small difficulties, but this is normal in families. In families who share the same values, also internationally. In the last years of the Soviet Union, in the 1980s, there was a big discussion in Europe about so-called „equidistance“ of Europe, towards the USSR and the USA. In Europe, it was clear that we may be geographically closer to the first ine, but value-wise closer connected to the US. Now we know: We stand alone – and we will not give up, now more than ever, to tell the world that it is worth while to have an open society, of immigration and emigration (many famous US companies would not exist if today’s travel bans would have existed!), a social market economy, and a clear concept of the togetherness in the world. What the Republicans do at present, is adventurous, and it shows that the political coordinates cannot be considered parallel at all, between Europe and the USA. This not yet a cultural fight, but serious cultural differences – and it is indeed a matter of education, of being open to other cultures and countries. Let us work in the suitable way in keeping contact with „enlightened“ Americans, who think apriund the Corner, and let us prepare the day, when Trump is „shot down the tube“ by the voters, or by an impeachment before, what I do not exclude, if you see the exhaust of his companies.
Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal








Macedonia vs. Greece, and now also Bulgaria

The result of the last European Council in December 2012 has hardly been taken note of outside of the concerned countries, what concerns the Macedonia accession to the EU. The European Council has for the 4th time consecutively denied the opening of accession negotiation, against a clear recommendation by the EU Commission for the 4th time. This shows that the veto at least at this stage is a totally outdated instrument.

The European Council decision was due to the traditional veto by Greece because of the name of Macedonia, but there are some hints in the air that the name issue might be settled (or pre-settled) between Macedonia and Greece in the next months, by an exchange of notes or other diplomatic documents between the both, and the good services of a (US) special envoy acting on behalf of the United Nations. The unblocking of the name issue will also lift the Greek veto against Macedonia’s accession to NATO which has been blocked by Greece as well (and this against a decision of the International Court of Justice). However, Greece was not really in the position to develop policies during the last months, for elections, a difficult change of government, and urgent legislation reasons – this of course everyone has to understand.

But what was new for the December decision was a de-facto veto for the Macedonian EU negotiations by Bulgaria. This was hardly perceived among the EU citizens.

Not enough that Greece so far has failed to quote any legal or qualified political arguments regarding the name of Macedonia (and of course some Macedonians are taking their mouth a bit full, too, in the best Yugoslav way) which may soon be changed. Macedonia’s recognised name is the „Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)“. The country would prefer the simple name of „Macedonia“, however this is the name of a province in northern Greece. In Belgium there is also a province with the name „Luxembourg“. Maybe a compulsory „Republic of Macedonia“ might be possible?

But Bulgaria has argued – through its Prime Minister Boyko Borissov – that parts of „its history have been stolen“ by Macedonia and that Bulgaria has been badmouthed (see among many other sources: Background is an exchange of letters between the Presidents, started by Bulgaria, which can only be considered as stupid, and where Bulgaria has advocated to commit a holiday together with Macedonia. Nothing against this, but a common commitment can only be proposed for uncontested holidays.

Dear fellow Bulgarians, the European Union is not a nationalist event! And that your President qualified Macedonia „not ready for accession negotiations“ is clearly contradictory to the recommendations of the EU Commission which four times during the last four years has recommended to start negotiations with Macedonia. At first, had someone of the previous EU Member States said this, Bulgaria would not be a member of the EU27, and it cannot have to do with the perspective that the EU Commission may impose an extraordinary monitoring report on the Bulgarian judicial system, which however seems very justified.

Also Macedonia should of course refrain from setting up monuments which easily can be considered as nationalist. But one has fully to endorse EU Commissioner Stefan Füle (who is one of the pillars of the Commission) who said towards Sofia “… it is not good to leave our partners waiting before the door for too long. I believe that integration is the best means for coping with nationalism, and I am convinced that isolation boosts nationalism.” In this context, Macedonia merits indeed now a fast start of negotiations, though many negotiation chapters can be cleared in advance. Macedonia has a certain fragile structure, with a big Albanian minority, an armed internal conflict in 2001, a Roma population which is partly de facto discriminated, and above all a country which has no further grave problems whatsoever with its neighbouring countries. The country merits now a stringent further approximation towards the EU – but no unfriendly fire from Bulgaria, which by the way is not contested by many opposition politicians there.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka
Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal

Serbia’s President: Good-bye, European Union

Europe is, even nowadays, more than just a financial crisis. The European Union is confronted on a daily basis with membership requests from the West Balkan countries. Croatia will join the EU as from 1.7.2013. Besides Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania – Bosnia-Herzegovia and Kosovo will join this club a bit later – Serbia is now a „candidate“ and negotiations should start soon. In a preliminary analysis, the EU Commission some years ago held a date between 2018 and 2020 for realistic, and this for the whole flock on countries. However, one must bear in mind that this would change the EU considerably: The population would increase about 5%, but the number of Member States almost for 30% – this means that we would have to think about the decision-making process, about the way to eliminate veto powers, about the unanimity principle etc. In short, the Treaty of Lisbon would have to be changed.

All these countries are most welcome to the EU. For it makes a lot of sense to prevent them once for all of any violence against people, be they externally or internally based within their state borders or boundaries. After the Tito comunism and some neo-nationalistic experience, it makes a lot of sense to be embraced by the European Union, to be represented by Members of European Parliament, to have an „own“ Commissioner, to be in Brussels, and above all to be embedded in the EU Single Market  – with or without the Euro, but in the case of the Balkan countries it can be expected that they all want the Euro as fast as possible (Montenegro and Kosovo have it already as official currency, some others as effective parallel currency, like Bosnia-Herzegovina).

In the case of Serbia there is a new president, Mr. Tomislav Nikolic, to cope with. Serbia is not an easy terrain for the EU, for various reasons. But what the new president who comes originally from the environment of ex-president Milosevic, has offered only some days after his inauguration was horrible:

He declared that the massacre of Srebrenica, where ex-general Mladic had several thousand muslims killed was no genocide (what the EU has declared, as without exemption and distinction every man who was part of one specific group of the population was killed – and exactly this is genocide). As the Osman Empire did it with Armenians, as Hitler’s Germany did it with the Jewish populations in Europe, as one group did it with the other in Rwanda/Burundi, etc.

He told that Brussels will agree to the non-recognition of Kosovo by Belgrade, which is unthinkable. An EU without Kosovo is not complete, like an EU without Serbia. Kosovo will comply much earlier to EU standards, which are also understood by policy positions and not only by approximated laws (here Serbia will have to do also a lot of homework, as its jurisdiction is said to be very open for corrupt practices yet!). Kosovo will not make any remarks to the European Union that the latter should join Kosovo. But Serbia makes remarks as if the EU should want to join Serbia and not vice-versa. Like Turkey cannot – I am very sorry – make any substantial progress in its accession negotiastions if they are not willing to let a Cypriot aircraft fly over its territory or accept a Cypriot ship in its ports, Serbia’s talk on the non-recognition of Kosovo is diametral to the solidarity principle within the EU, is not acceptable for any true European. This has to be seen also in Serbia.

This president who also tries to group several „old boys“ from the Milosevic regime around him as advisors (like the law professor Oliver Antic who was one of the Milosevic adepts and responsible for one of the biggest election frauds of Serbia in 1997), follows a policy of „Good-bye, Europe“, without saying that as an alternative he would go in the direction of Russia. Russia does not say anything against this, but after all not in favour as well, because Serbia is not an Autonomous Region or oblast in the Russian Federation. The business and the civil society of Serbia are much more involved into the EU than in Russia – but this is not any reason not to be good friend with Russia, even a privileged one. Nikolic was not elected because of his nationalist policy but more because of the objective economic performance of his predecessor (for which he cannot even be blamed).

The couple of years with Nikolic at the top of the state must not be lost, however. But almost every talk with him and his camarilla will be wasted time, as the European Union per se is not a nationalist event. Despite many slivovic, laughters, prasicek, shoulder claps and compliant speeches. One should never forget that one has to screen someone according to what a speech means for him, and not what a speech means to a listener.  I fell very sorry with the Serbian people, but they have elected a president who will bring nothing to approach the EU, despite many lip services. If the people who have responsibilty in the EU for Serbia understand his policy right, plus also the usual Balkan talk …, he will not be anyone with whom Brussels wants to play ball. His way of distinction between local echo / European echo is not anymore valid in the EU. Mr. Nikolic said very firmly „Good-bye, European Union“. The EU should – and will – say: „OK, Mr. Nikolic. Temporary good-bye to Serbia, until you will be succeeded“.

We will therefore have some lost years, which will be a problem also for all the other states, in particular to Kosovo, but also to Bosnia-Herzegovina. This means the „regional principle“ for taking these countries into the EU is now broken, and once the next countries may be ready (Macedonia and Montenegro – which will take some years yet, however, for different reasons in both states), they will be taken in. Which will enlarge the pressure on Serbia, of course. Not a policy Nikolic was standing for.

Hans-Jürgen Zahorka, Chief Editor, European Union Foreign Affairs Journal (EUFAJ)