Swallow the frog and move on

Posted on 24. March 2013

by Jovana Mihajlovic

jovana-mihajlovic-modifiedWhile Serbia struggles desperately to achieve the date for starting the EU accession talks, one Member of the European Parliament suggested that discussion on this topic should be postponed. At the session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the MEP of the UK Independence Party had some objections to the agenda: instead on April 2013, he suggested that discussion about Serbia and Kosovo accession should be rescheduled for April 3000! Is this just a typical English sense of humor or an interesting way to illustrate how feasible the accession actually is for those two candidates?

Meanwhile, Lady Ashton has been mediating in talks between the highest representatives of Serbia and Kosovo- the two PM’s, Ivica Dacic and Hashim Taci. The outcome of these talks is going to be a crucial benchmark for the EC when deciding whether to give a carrot or a stick (date or no date) to those two naughty applicants. I just hope that Mrs. Ashton is going to show some quite stronger nerves and more durable patience than above mentioned MEP. At least for now, she seems to believe in happy ending of this marathon talks, and so she even spent her birthday in the company of those two PM’s. Now the Serbian and Kosovar people are meticulously informed about what our delegations brought as a birthday present, but when it comes to explaining what was negotiated, or more importantly, what was agreed in their meeting, it seems to us like all three of them came from a different planets. In any case, the ordinary people who live in Kosovo would understand eventually what is hidden behind the euphemisms of our politicians, as they will be forced to apply those agreements on their own skin. We are “looking forward” to their next round of talks which is probably going to happen around the 14thanniversary of NATO bombing of Serbia. Are we going to sign some similar document to the one that we signed in Kumanovo when Serbia capitulated in 1999 (although we prefer to use other terms like “moral victory” instead of capitulation)? Sure, our ingenious politicians will think of some nicer and more tender-for-ears words like “ground liaison officer” instead of ambassador or “administrative crossing” instead of border, but at the end we will all know what it de facto means. But even though this capitulation (recognition of Kosovo as an independent state), as I personally prefer to call it, sounds rough and too hard to contemplate, somehow I’m convinced that it would bring a great relief to Serbia and would pave the way towards the EU membership. The point is that sooner you tell the painful truth to your people, faster they are going to get over it. It is simple- the EU is smart enough not to bring such messy issues to its home yard. A country should fulfill at least some minimum criteria of reaching a certain level of organized society in terms of relations with neighboring countries, the rule of law, economic development, fighting corruption, freedom of media etc… But what about Bulgaria and Romania, one would wonder? They managed to slip through with a whole bunch of unsolved substantial issues. However, the EU itself is fortunately becoming smarter and, as people from the EC would like to say, they’ve “acquired some experience” (they also like to use fancy phrases instead of saying that they’ve made a mistake). Anyway, Serbia will have to find some kind of a solution for Kosovo ASAP. One of our greatest politicians, Mr. Zoran Djindjic, used to say: “If you have to swallow a frog, do it now! If you have to swallow two frogs, swallow the bigger one first!” One can wonder how on earth have we brought ourselves to swallowing frogs and what were our mistakes that have led us to this point, but the answer to that question must be a well learned lesson instead of a justification for retention of the status quo.  Either way, the frogs are here and we must deal with them if we want to move on.

At the end, I would just quote a famous graffiti that appeared in Belgrade one morning back in 1999:

“It is spring, but I live in Serbia.”