Monday, December 04, 2006

PfP membership for Serbia will not stop the SRS

Serbia has been allowed to enter the Partnership for Peace, a kind of waiting room for NATO membership. But it gives me rather mized feelings.

On the one hand I am glad that for this recognition that Serbia needs to become more integrated with the rest of Europe and the world. But I am disappointed that the main motive seems to be to diminish the support for the SRS. I believe that this kind of "social engineering" does not work and often backfires.

The Western intervention in former Yugoslavia has a long history of being motivated by how the West can get those people to do what the West wants. On that basis it assigns rewards and punishments that often seem unrelated to what they are supposed to repair. Instead the West should do better to listen more to what the Balkanians really want.

In the case of Serbia this might be more attention for the Kosovo Serbs - instead of the highly formalistic policy of the Contact Group that considers abstract "principles" more important than the fate of Kosovo's Serbs.

In the case of Croatia this might be some monetary support for the return of the Serbs. One of the strongest argument from Croatia's right against assigning houses to returning Serbs is that it means that means that "Serb war criminals" are advantaged above "Croat war veterans". An EU donation to support the building of extra houses with conditions that a part of them should be assigned to Serbs might do a lot to diminish this criticism. It would also bring Croatia closer to the EU.

Just as Hitler's success was based on the injustices of the Versailles Treaty, so the success of the SRS is based on clear injustices towards Serbs. If the West wants to stop the SRS they should solve those injustices, instead of coming with the PfP, that can easily be discarded by the SRS as an empty gesture.

Unfortunately the world react the same as in 1919. Then too many people saw only the destruction in France and Belgium and considered it normal that the Germans should pay for their crimes. Now the same kind of people sees only Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo and cannot understand why the Serbs should complain.

People who feel powerless have a tendency to seek refuge in magic thinking. In Hitlers time it made them accept his "dagger-stab legend" and his hatred against Jews. The dogma's of the SRS seem not more coherent.