I will run the risk of opining before the final figures for the municipal elections in Kosovo are released but only because the pattern seems so familiar.
Numbers have been trickling in throughout the day, but as of this writing it appears we are looking at a 47.9% country-wide turnout, sans the municipalities in the North, though as much as 63% in some of the the southern Serb municipalities.
Voting places in the North have been attacked by right-wing, ultra-nationalists and voting lists stolen. Given the track record of the groups behind these attacks, peoples lives are now likely in danger. We can only speculate how many people voted prior to the attacks, though initial figures seemed to suggest well below 20%, perhaps even below 15%.
It is pertinent to step back at this juncture and ask what context these elections are taking place in.
Belgrade's claim on Kosovo, well before these elections, had been definitively signed over by the Nikolic-Vucic administration, whatever other performances they may now put on after the fact. Kosovo, of course, was long gone, but credit to the current administration in Belgrade for having accepted a reality that the supposed liberal Boris Tadic never could. Vucic, in particular, may not be the "liberal" Brussels expected, especially given his past track record: a fundamentalist proponent of the Greater Serbia myth, whose foreign policy, at one point, consisted of "if you kill one Serb, we will kill a hundred Muslims." Perhaps precisely because they had these "radical credentials," Nikolic and Vucic were able to make a more substantive pivot than the "European" Tadic. Quite the make-over, in any case.
With no serious threat on their right, Nikolic and Vucic are able to move towards the EU, having met the brunt of the international community's expectations, yet preserving in the North of Kosovo enough of a hostage population to prop themselves up as guardians of "Serbdom." If anything, it is Pristina that now runs the risk of appearing as the radicals within these negotiations if they insist on extending their statist, "monopoly of violence" regime to the North, via Police incursions and the like.
Yet while 5,000 KFOR and 2,000 EULEX troops stationed in Kosovo could not prevent a fistful of goons from jeopardizing the lives of hundreds of people and with a sordid 45% turnout rate in even the functional part of Kosovo, one can nevertheless fully expect the rhetoric from Brussels to be buoyant. Elections, progress, Europe. Whatever we may think of Belgrade and Pristina, at least their leaders know what they're playing for--even if it's often just for personal privileges. Brussels just appears stuck on auto-play.
After all, in BiH, bit-players like Dragan Covic of the HDZ and Milorad Dodik (both of whom long ago lost the support of Zagreb and Belgrade, respectively) have been able to paralyze reform efforts for years. In the case of Covic, the man who has steadfastly insisted on derailing the Sejdic-Finci case into a fictional "Croat Question," the situation has reached absurd depths.
For instance, Covic has for years claimed that the (two!) HDZs are the "only legitimate representatives of the Croat people in BiH." Between them, these two parties won in 2010 something like 150,000 votes. Now he claims to have received (illegally, I add) early census numbers that suggest there are 570,000 Croats in BiH. The number, of course, is likely a fabrication but let's suppose it's real: when did receiving 26% of a vote turn one into the "only legitimate representative" of anything? Frustrated by his inability to push through complete fiction as sound public policy, Covic is now openly threatening to return to his past (overt) nationalist practices if the Sejdic-Finci case is not resolved. Again, recall, this from the man who has done his utmost to ensure that at no time were we even in the neighborhood of addressing the substantive aspects of the ECHR decision.
Yet Covic is a key "partner" of the EU in BiH. As is Dodik, the President of the 49% of BiH most dedicated to ensuring that we all pretend that the expulsion and murder, in some cases, of 90% of the pre-war population in his entity is irrelevant. Especially to his current denunciations of supposed conspiracies to radically alter the demographic picture of the RS. Instead, the EU would prefer to focus on deadlines that are never met and sanctions that are never implemented, in farcical but nevertheless marathon-like constitutional reform efforts--conducted not by accountable parliamentary bodies--but partisan political oligarchs.
It appears that they've given up the "end of history" narrative everywhere but in Brussels, where the goal of "EU membership" appears as the only possible foreign policy objective conceivable. Don't you want to be Cyprus? they want to say. Or perhaps Greece? They're confused by the fact that small-time hustlers in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Pristina would rather be Dons than Statesmen [sic]. That they would rather be in the Balkans (?!) than in Europe.
Why would they want anything else, though? In Serbia, Kosovo and BiH, the elites have all learnt that there's plenty of money and zero accountability in being a perennial not-quite candidate for the glorious Union. In Athens and Nicosia they've just got plundered banks.
After the "Hour of Europe" ended in the largest foreign policy disaster on the Old Continent since the Second World War, one would have thought policies would have changed. Some patterns might have been recognized. Instead, nearly 30 years after the first bands of thugs began terrorizing eastern Croatia and BiH, these same thugs, realistically speaking, are back in the news.
But, hey, at least Aleksandar Vucic is now a Progressive!
2/5/2021 06:01:56 am
Thanks for this bblog post
Comments are closed.