Thursday, April 10, 2008


Given the discussion about the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU in Serbia I decided to look up the document. It is here. The link gives you a page with three links. The one in the middle is the SAA. For those interested: Here are the texts for Croatia and Bosnia. The documents are over 200 pages each. So enjoy the reading!

Except for a reference to an uninteresting refernce to an aviation agreement the SAA mentions Kosovo only in article 135. There it says: "The Agreement shall not apply in Kosovo which is at present under international administration pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999. This is without prejudice to the current status of Kosovo or the determination of its final status under the same Resolution.". Allthough previous agreements with the EU (the last in 2006) did include Kosovo I can't see this change as a recognition of Kosovo. What I am not sure of is the consequences of the SAA for the Kosovo-Serbia border: will free transport of goods and people still be possible?

One possible explanation for the resistance against the SAA is that it may be a retaliation for the blocking of the Russian gas deal by the DS. One would hope that Serbia's leaders find some more constructive way to deal with each other and with Serbia's international interests.

Don't get me wrong: I am not a big fan of the EU. Countries that follows its dictates to the letter do that to their own detriment. But I think that better market access and easier travel opportunities will be to Serbia's advantage.


bganon said...

Like you Wim I am not an EU enthusiast but what irks me is the false reasons being given by the right in Serbia for opposing the signing of the SAA.

Its a matter of record that the majority of people in Serbia support EU membership (still). However, even before recognition of Kosovo there was always a sizable minority (as in other countries) who opposed the EU.

Sadly since the left doesn't truly exist in Serbia, its the extreme right that are anti Europeans. DSS largely have the Eurosceptic position.

But today in Serbia we have a ridiculously dishonest situation where even the extreme right pretends to support EU integration.

The whole electoral campaign centres around Kosovo and the EU as if it were the same issue. There is little serious debate about other important issues.

Wim Roffel said...

I agree with you Bganon that it is a pity that the campaign doesn't address other issues. But for the rest I see things slightly different:
- the majority of the Serbs support also a policy of not recognising Kosovo. Yet Dinkic seemed to aim for that when he proposed now longer to pay the debts of Kosovo. So both sides show similar hypocrisy.
- being Eurosceptic does not have to mean rejecting Europe. Even the Radicals can read maps and opinion polls. Being Eurosceptic didn't stop Brittain from becoming a member either.
- the strategy that the Radicals proposed to link the status of Kosovo to EU membership was not so stupid as it seems. With Mladic at large there is not much for Serbia to win anyway, even the SAA will not bring the abolishment of visa requirements and EU membership will happen in 2015 at earliest. On the other hand it can be expected that the Kosovo situation will become more clear in one or two years at most. So why not wait so long? If you continue adopting EU legislation you will lose no time and gain diplomatic leverage that way. Of course it is stupid to put such a strategy in print as a resolution as the Radicals did: it should be an informal agreement between coalition partners.