Westerwelle’s Big Adventure

Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is touring the Balkans this week, visiting Zagreb, Belgrade, Pristina and Sarajevo. It is the newest mission in pursuit of an old agenda: the surrender of Serbia, an independent state of Kosovo, and a centralized Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The only surprise so far has been Westerwelle’s message to Croatia — Germany’s principal Balkans client since 1991 — that its admission to the EU may not be as quick as Zagreb had hoped. While reassuring his hosts that "nothing has changed," the German FM also said there was "a lot of work ahead" before Croatia would qualify to be annexed by Brussels, and that "thoroughness is more important than speed."

On Thursday, Westerwelle traveled on to Belgrade, where he tried to persuade the ruling regime to give up Serbia’s sovereignty for the mere promise of EU membership. Yet even the sycophant, quisling government set up in Belgrade by EU and Imperial ambassadors in July 2008, seemed strangely reluctant to fawn over Westerwelle’s words.

Disobedient Quislings

The tone of Westerwelle’s visit to Belgrade was not so much imperious as petulant. Germany and the EU have hardly tried to disguise annoyance with their clients in Serbia, who have so far refused to do as told and officially concede that the Serbian province occupied by NATO in 1999 is now the "Independent state of Kosovo." (ISK)

Earlier this year, the governments of U.S., UK, Germany, France and Italy even sent a most un-diplomatic note to Serbia’s Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, expressing their frustration and disappointment that the "aggressive rhetoric" from Serbia wasn’t merely a ploy for domestic consumption to "remove Kosovo from the political agenda," as their "partners in Belgrade" assured them.

While the Tadic regime hasn’t gone beyond words in defending Kosovo — and has done much to surrender the province in practice — even that had become unacceptable to the Empire and the EU. Only unconditional submission would do.

Though Belgrade’s appeal to international law failed in late July, the tortured verdict by the International Court of Justice has created far more trouble for the Empire than for Serbia. Furthermore, new recognitions for the ISK have failed to materialize. Instead of just surrendering as expected, Tadic and his people proposed a new UN resolution, calling for new negotiations. Even though the proposal has little chance of passing in the General Assembly, the very fact that it was made has "has rankled many Western UN members, who see Belgrade’s fixation on Kosovo as a tiresome impediment to progress in the Balkans," reports Radio Free Europe, adding that Westerwelle is expected to demand the resolution’s gutting, if not outright withdrawal.

RFE also quotes what Westerwelle’s spokesman Stephan Bredohl told Deutsche Welle: "Germany has accepted [Kosovo’s] independence, and it’s very important for us that if Serbia wants to join the European Union, it needs to be constructive and toe the EU’s line."

Facts and Fantasy

No doubt that Berlin — and Washington — consider it of great importance for Belgrade to "toe the line" and do what it’s told. But the notion that Serbia would be rewarded for surrendering Kosovo with a promise of EU membership was already outlandish back in 2008. Now that Germany has explicitly ruled out any further EU expansion anytime soon (after the annexation of Croatia, that is), the notion of Serbia joining the EU in this decade is at best an exercise in wishful thinking. Nor is it easy any more to promote the myth of "pre-accession funds" rolling in, what with the financial crisis undermining the Euro.

In return for the promise of a fantasy, Westerwelle expects Serbia to accept the "reality" imposed by the EU. As he put it in a speech at the University of Belgrade, "The independence of Kosovo is a reality… Reconciliation is only possible when one grasps the reality." (Deutsche Welle) In another statement, quoted by Reuters, he asserted, "The map of southeastern Europe has been laid down and completed."

So, "reality" is whatever ends up being established at gunpoint, as a result of pure willpower. Where have we heard this before?

Westerwelle also tried to persuade Belgrade to drop the UN resolution proposal. "When someone in Europe wants to solve something including conflicts […] the road should first lead to Brussels, not to New York," he said. (DW)

Brussels is the capital of the EU, and while that may entitle it to assert authority over EU member countries (itself a dubious claim), what sort of authority can it claim, and on what basis, over countries and territories in no way, shape, or form associated with the EU Leviathan? If Serbia were an EU member, and Brussels decided to bully it into giving independence to Kosovo, Westerwelle might have a point. But this sort of arrogance of power argues precisely against EU membership. What is to stop Brussels from deciding tomorrow that "reality" involved an independent Catalunya or Basque, or a revision of the Treaty of Trianon?

No wonder, then, that the Serbian president is playing stupid, and the official statement about the meeting with Westerwelle says only that the two "agreed in Belgrade that Serbia’s future lies with the EU and that for Serbia, Germany is one of the major political and economic partners." Tadic even "told the German minister that Serbia counts on the EU support for the solution of the Kosovo issue…"

Support? What support?!

Dumb and Dumber

Something does not add up. The obsession of Germany, the EU and the Empire with the "independent state of Kosovo" and bringing Serbia to heel can actually be explained with conspiracy facts (as opposed to theories). What is truly puzzling here is the behavior of the Belgrade government.

Boris Tadic has established his credentials as a spineless sycophant years ago. The only thing doubtful about his loyalty is if he whether it lies more with himself, or the Empire; to Serbia, there isn’t any. Tadic personally scuttled the government’s plan to resist the seizure of Kosovo by breaking up the coalition and calling for new elections. The Albanians in Kosovo went ahead with their February 2008 "declaration of independence" only after Tadic was re-elected president of Serbia.

Similarly, for all his patriotic rhetoric, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic is loyal to Tadic, who was his schoolteacher before becoming his political patron. In April 2007, Austrian chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer told Reuters that he was "working with Boris Tadic and his people to find a way to implement the essence of the Ahtisaari plan" — a proposal by an Imperial envoy to give Kosovo "supervised independence" that was ultimately rejected by the UN. Jeremic was one of the people implicated in these secret talks.

The Empire has spelled out the promises its "partners in Belgrade" have made. So why have they not delivered yet? Tadic currently has complete dominance over the politics, media and civil society in Serbia, not seen since the late Communist leader Tito. It doesn’t matter that Tadic is nowhere near as popular; the people have no way to express their dissent save by taking to the streets en masse. All other avenues are controlled by people loyal to either Tadic, or directly to the Empire. By all rights, Tadic should not care what the people want. Yet he still refuses to surrender. Why?

Could it be that he is afraid? Afraid of a theoretical popular revolt that would sweep away the house of cards laboriously constructed ever since the Empire-sponsored coup in October 2000, and possibly even cost Tadic and his associates their heads? Serbia and Georgia are the only two Empire-engineered "revolutions" that haven’t been rolled back yet.

There is the theoretical possibility that Tadic is just playing dumb and feigning patriotism, while the Empire is playing dumber and feigning annoyance, so as to preclude any resistance from arising until it is too late. But this would require a far greater degree of subtlety that either can be credited with.

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for Antiwar.com debuted in November 2000.