A conversation in TPQ: European values and continental geopolitics (interview in Turkish Policy Quarterly)

Check out the upcoming  issue of Turkish Policy Quarterly, edited by my colleague Nigar Goksel, here: Turkish Policy Quarterly

I gave an interview for this issue – before the dramatic turn of events in Ukraine last week – on “European values and continental geopolitics”: on why Samuel Huntington was wrong in 1993 and is still wrong today. Why European values have little to do with European history until 1945. Why the future of enlargement still depends most of all on the leaders of the countries that want to join.  Why Moldova matters. Why the EU should not worry about “losing” Azerbaijan or Belarus to Russia. And what gay rights have to do with Turkish visa liberalisation.


Was Huntington right?

Huntington wrote, against the background of wars in the former Yugoslavia, about conflicts and the battle lines of the future. He explained these wars by reference to civilizational fault-lines. In fact, ideas like his are misleading, ahistorical, and dangerous. It is no surprise that in the Balkans they were most popular with autocrats and nationalists of all ethnic groups and religions to justify crimes –ethnic cleansing, suppressing minorities, suppressing basic rights of their own citizens– in the name of defending their “civilization.”

The curious thing: Huntington was popular with allegedly “Catholic” autocrats, like Franjo Tudjman in Croatia, and allegedly “Orthodox” autocrats, like Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. In reality, not only were both Tudjman and Milosevic former communists, but both also used the same rhetoric to justify crimes, claiming to defend “Europe”: Milosevic against “Turks” and Albanian Muslims and Tudjman against Serbs and Bosnian Muslims. It is an old rhetorical device.

In his declaration of war against the United States, Adolf Hitler declared in December 1941 that the war led by National Socialist Germany was a war in defense of “Europe.” At the same time, Hitler’s Germany reintroduced unimaginable torture, mass killings, and the slavery of millions of people on a continental scale. Not long ago, before the Second World War, the notion that “Europe” stood for a civilization based on the rule of law, the Enlightenment, and democracy would have seemed strange. From Italy to Spain, from Germany to Russia, from Portugal to Poland to Yugoslavia, dictators were in control.


What are “European values”?

When we talk today about “European values,” what we really mean is the aspiration, following the catastrophe of failed autocracy and war in the first half of the 20th century, that this continent should finally become a continent of liberal democracies.

It was a vision to escape from the past, and move towards a very different future. Take the European Convention on Human Rights from 1949: it is, or should be, as much at home in Warsaw, Bucharest, Madrid, or Ankara as in Berlin or Vienna. And the continental fault-line today is between societies which aspire to defend and respect these values and those who do not. Theories of civilization have nothing to do with this.


Is the EU’s influence on the continent waning?

We see two opposing trends. On the one hand, the last 25 years have seen the most astonishing peaceful geopolitical revolution in the history of this continent. The enlargement of the EU from 12 to 15 and then 28 countries. Taking in the former communist states of Central Europe and the Eastern Balkans has been an astonishing development. Take Poland, take the Baltic States: these have never been more secure, more democratic in their history. You can also compare the Balkans today with the Balkans in the 1990s. Military budgets are down, conflict between states has ended.

On the other hand, we see pushback. This dramatic, and fast, change has come at a price. There are many people in the older EU member states who feel that this change has been too quick. Today enlargement is an unpopular policy in Paris or The Hague. As a result, the EU today is no longer promising as clearly as it did after 1999 that it is ready to embrace future democracies on its doorsteps. In the Balkans, in Turkey, this has slowed down the enlargement process to a snail’s pace. It is undermining the EU’s influence.

Who gets to join the EU?

In the early 1990s, Germany was opposed to the Baltic states joining. There was long opposition to Bulgaria and Romania, and later Croatia. But in the Baltic states and later in Bulgaria, national elites decided to make joining the EU a top priority, and pushed for it against all odds. And in countries where leaders did not support EU accession, like Slovakia in the late 1990s, it was civil society and the opposition who campaigned and defeated the government on a platform of EU accession. The driving force, by far the most important single factor, was always the determination of countries who wanted to join. Where this will existed, they managed. Where this was absent, they have not. I believe that this is still the case today.


Values and geopolitics

We have autocratic regimes, in Minsk, in Moscow, which are not much different from previous dictatorial regimes, such as in Portugal or Spain. They fear their own people, and so they arrest dissidents, suppress civil society, and hold farcical elections. At the same time, such regimes are aware of their weak legitimacy. This is why they pretend to be democratic, pretend to hold free and fair elections, buy influence in the Council of Europe. And they cooperate among each other. The laws on NGOs or laws to suppress demonstrations in Russia, Azerbaijan, or Belarus are copies of one another.

Today the big question is: what will happen in Ukraine? There are some in Kiev who want Ukraine to be run along similar lines as Russia: a strong president, no checks and balances, a closed economy. And there are others in the country who oppose this, including some business people who realize the value of being next to the European Union, the biggest integrated market in the world. There is a clear choice: either the “managed democracy” model of Putin, which exports only raw material and the money of its elites, or real parliamentary democracy that every Ukrainian can see when visiting Poland.

It is in the EU’s interest to support democracy in Ukraine. Then, in free elections, Ukrainians can make their own choices. What the EU should oppose, however, is Russian interference and blackmail in its neighborhoods. Since Russia’s elite has much of what it values in the EU –its money, its houses, its families– the EU has enormous leverage (if it should chose to use it) to stop open interference. But the real choice between the Polish and the Russian model has to be made by the people in Ukraine in free and fair elections.


Will Moldova and Georgia “break out”?

In February 2013, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski praised Moldova on his visit to Chisinau as “the greatest hope of the Eastern Partnership.” Recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that “the Republic of Moldova has perhaps demonstrated the greatest political will of all Eastern partners to adopt and implement reforms.” Very soon, Moldovans will be able to travel visa-free to the EU. And so this landlocked country with a population of only 3.5 million has become the surprising frontrunner in the Eastern neighborhood.

The policy question for the EU is whether it finally offers Moldova a true perspective of future integration later in 2014, which goes beyond the current association on the table. I very much hope it will. As for Georgia, I think everything the EU offered to Moldova needs to also be on the table for Georgia. The importance of a stable parliamentary democracy in Georgia for the South Caucasus cannot be overestimated.


The risk of losing ”Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan” to Russia?

Neither Poland nor Lithuania nor Germany is a threat to Belarus. What we see happening instead is that the Russian regime supports another autocracy in Minsk. It is in the EU’s interest for Belarus to be a democracy above all else. There is nothing wrong if the people of Belarus chose, freely and in fair elections, to remain neutral and non-aligned, like Switzerland. However, the EU should, in its own interest in lasting stability, support the democratization of all of its eastern neighbors. It should make travel for young people from Belarus to the EU as easy as possible. It should target the elites in these autocracies with visa bans. It should support independent media, just as this has been done by Radio Free Europe during the Cold War. Trying to appease the regime in Belarus will not wean it away from its alliance with Moscow; democratization would.

Russia also exploits the conflict in the South Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan to its own benefit. This is a tragedy for both societies. It suggests that Russia has every interest in this frozen conflict to remain frozen, whatever the consequences for the people on the ground. But this should not stop other European democracies from defending the values to which both Armenia and Azerbaijan committed themselves when they joined the Council of Europe in 2001. Let us not be naïve: to insist on human rights will not have an immediate effect. But let us also remember how insistence on basic human rights standards during the Cold War in Europe was used by dissidents in communist regimes to confront their regimes, and how this dissident thinking contributed to the changes in 1989. But why would pressure that Baku release its dissidents or allow free elections, if it wants to remain a member of the Council of Europe, drive the country into the arms of Russia? This is what we see today: autocrats exchanging experiences of how to suppress their own people. That has never brought stability anywhere.


LGBT rights and geopolitics


To many people’s surprise, the biggest challenge Moldova faced on its path towards visa liberalization concerned gay rights. One of the requirements of the Visa Liberalization Action Plan was to pass antidiscrimination legislation protecting minorities, including sexual minorities. However, some public figures across the political spectrum responded to the EU requirement with statements describing gay and lesbians as abnormal. The Communist Party, for example, joined forces with the Orthodox Church, and in February 2012, Balti –Moldova’s second largest city– enacted a local ban on “aggressive propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientations.”

All this had earlier happened in Russia as well. In contrast, however, the Moldovan Parliament adopted an anti-discrimination law in May 2012.

The law forbids all kinds of discrimination and explicitly refers to sexual orientation in relation to discrimination in the workplace. Further, in February 2013, the ban on “propaganda” was also struck down by a local appeals court as unconstitutional. This played a key role in convincing EU member states about the seriousness of the government in Moldova. It also holds important lessons for other countries that aspire to full visa -free travel, such as Georgia and Turkey.


Non-discrimination and Turkey

Now the visa roadmap has finally been handed over, last December. If the experience of other countries are taken as a benchmark, this might lead to full liberalization within two to three years.

At the same time, one of the most important challenges for Turkey will be to address the conditions concerning fundamental rights. The visa roadmap for Turkey states that “the right to liberty and security, the right to a fair trial and freedom of expression, of assembly and association in practice” needs to be ensured for visa liberalization to be granted.

While non-discrimination is not explicitly mentioned here, it has been central to every visa liberalization process in every other country, from the Balkans to Moldova and Georgia and Ukraine. It is also raised prominently in the EU’s latest progress report, with half a page alone focused on discrimination of sexual minorities. The current legislation in Turkey is clearly not in line with the acquis either.

Here is the potential for a win-win situation. If Turkey meets the technical conditions of the roadmap –concerning document security and border management– and continues to help the EU to reduce illegal migration across its borders into the EU –as it has done successfully in the past year– then meeting the human rights conditions becomes the ace to win over even reluctant parliaments in the EU.

If Turkey passes a non-discrimination law, and passes the other human rights reforms outlined above, it will have a very strong case when it comes to getting the necessary votes in the European Council, which –and this is crucial– decides on this by qualified majority, so no single EU member state has a veto.

In this way, everyone gains. For this to happen, efforts and advocacy by human rights and civil society organizations become crucial, in Turkey and elsewhere in Europe. Learning from Moldova’s experience here is actually a good starting point for Turkish NGOs as well.


Further reading:

Cutting the Visa Knot- How Turks can Travel freely to Europe, Esi Report, 21 May 2013, http://www.esiweb.org/pdf/esi_document_id_139.pdf

Documents and ESI analysis related to the visa liberalization processes of these countries and others can be found at: http://www.esiweb.org/index.php?lang=en&id=483

Kiev and the cost of EU enlargement on hold

Looking to Kiev, as violent repression returns to the  20th century bloodlands of Europe (read Snyder’s excellent and haunting book, if you have not yet). It is heartbreaking.

It is also an urgent cause to reflect on one of the biggest policy opportunities by the European Union. Just as the experience of the Kosovo war in 1999 led a generation of European policy makers to reflect on the costs of disengagement in the Balkans, the experience of Kiev in 2014 should lead to a reflection on the costs of disengagement in Eastern Europe.

If one wants to find a date for when the EU lost the thread in this region I would suggest summer 2005.

2005 was one year after the big Central European enlargement. This remains the single biggest foreign policy success of any big power in the past 20 years. The EU – led by Germany – had done the right thing in 1997 when it decided to open accession talks with five, and in 1999 when it decided to open accession talks with another seven countries. This has remade the geopolitics of half of the continent. Germany under the Red-Green government, supported by France under Chirac and in alliance with the Prodi commission of the EU, had made this big enlargement their priority, (and a German close to the chancellor, Günter Verheugen, was put in charge of pushing it through) after 1999.

But then came the great disappointment. Following the 2004 enlargement, the EU – and Germany – failed to provide leadership, vision, and a strategy.  Ukraine should have been offered a clear EU perspective after the Orange Revolution – and with it, serious EU involvement to help guide its transition and focus its reforms. This chance was missed.

The same offer should have been on the table in Vilnius in 2013 for Moldova and Ukraine. Another missed opportunity.

2005 was the turning point in this story.  During the Ukrainian Orange revolution in early 2005 crowds in Kiev were waving European flags as they protested against election fraud. (Just as Ukrainian protestors in Kiev would wave European flags again after November 2013.)

The notion that continued EU enlargement was a good peace policy for the whole continent was still defended in Germany in early 2005, not only by the Red-Green coalition of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his foreign minister Joschka Fischer, but also by Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, then in opposition.

In January 2005 the opposition CDU in the German Bundestag called on the Red-Green government in power to offer the Western Balkans a more concrete accession perspective (Antrag der Abgeordneten und der Fraktion der CDU, Fuer ein staerkeres Engagement der Europaeischen Union auf dem westlichen Balkan, 25 Januar 2005). Signatories included, among others, Wolfgang Schaeuble, Ruprecht Polenz, and Angela Merkel.

Furthermore, in spring 2005 the CDU faction in the Bundestag, led by Angela Merkel, prepared a motion calling on the German government to also offer a concrete European perspective to Ukraine. Following the Dutch and French referenda in spring 2005, rejecting the EU Constitutional Treaty, this motion was silently buried and astonishingly never tabled!

In early 2005, there was still talk across the continent about the EU’s ability to attract and thereby transform the states around it. As Mark Leonard, a prominent think-tanker, argued in a book that appeared in 2005:

“The overblown rhetoric directed at the ‘American Empire’ misses the fact that the US reach – militarily and diplomatically – is shallow and narrow. The lonely superpower can bribe, bully, or impose its will almost anywhere in the world, but when its back is turned, its potency wanes. The strength of the EU, conversely, is broad and deep: once sucked into its sphere of influence, countries are changed forever.”

This was not based on wishful thinking, but rather on the real experience of the previous decade in Central Europe. Enlargement had helped overcome age-old suspicions. It had helped stabilise a young democracy. It had helped rebuild economies in turmoil following the collapse of communism. It also helped resolve bilateral conflicts for good. The experience of Germany and Poland was only one dramatic illustration of this promise in action.  In 1990 the number of Poles who feared Germany still stood above 80 per cent. By 2009 it had fallen to 14 per cent.

In 1999 in Helsinki the EU gave candidate status to Turkey. In 2000 in Zagreb, and even more explicitly in 2003 in Thessaloniki, the EU held out the promise of accession to all of the Western Balkan states. Turkey received a date for the opening of accession talks in December 2004, and EU enlargement commissioner Gunther Verheugen confided to associates at the time that he expected Turkey to likely be a full member by 2014. Following the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2004, the idea of offering a European perspective to the first South Caucasus republic did not appear far-fetched. European flags were put up outside all of the government buildings in Tbilisi.

This was all to change after summer 2005. First, the crisis over the EU’s constitutional treaty, followed by the onset of a global economic crisis in 2008, dramatically changed the policy discourse on enlargement in Europe. Almost as soon as Mark Leonard’s book praising the EU for its policy of transformation through enlargement – Why Europe will run the 21st century – was published, the book’s premise came into doubt. Inside, the EU policy makers questioned whether the Union had already over-expanded. This further undermined the EU’s self-confidence. Then came the Euro-crisis. There were concerns over populism in new member states – with the focus first on Poland, then Slovakia, and finally Hungary. The Euro-crisis after 2008 undermined the notion that EU enlargement actually changed countries “forever.”  Concerns mounted over weak institutions and corruption in Romania and Bulgaria. There was intense frustration over administrative capacity in Greece, a long-time member state.

An air of fragility and doubt took hold. In light of multiple European crises, a different consensus emerged: enlargement, the EU’s flagship policy of the early 21st century, is not a solution to the problems of the continent, but rather a source of its problems. Enlargement had already gone too far. It could not continue as it had in the past. In 2005, following the French and Dutch referenda which rejected the EU constitutional treaty, Michael Emerson predicted that while accession treaties have been signed with Bulgaria and Romania, “ratification by the French parliament cannot be taken for granted. For other candidates or would-be candidates, the general message is ‘pause’.” [1]

And doubt was infectious. As the EU began to doubt its ambitions, its neighbors, from the Balkans to Turkey, from Ukraine to Georgia, began to doubt its commitment.  They no longer took for granted that article 49 of the EU’s own treaty (!) really applies – which states that “any European State which respects the European values and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the Union.”

Doubt undermined trust, which has since translated into a sense of betrayal, most visibly in Turkey. Turkey has been negotiating with the EU since late 2005. With the Turkey-EU accession process in crisis, further enlargement as a strategy for peace-building and conflict prevention in Europe came to sound almost utopian. Former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, a champion of EU enlargement when in office, has now wrote in a book on Europe 2030: “while almost all of the EU’s neighbors wish to join, its own citizens increasingly oppose not only further expansion but also deeper political integration.” Fischer concluded:

“I doubt that Europe’s malaise can be overcome before 2030… While the partial creation of a common defense system, along with a European army, is possible by 2030, a common foreign policy is not. Expansion of the EU to include the Balkan states, Turkey and Ukraine should also be ruled out.

However, here is the catch: enlargement has found no successor as a strategy to overcome conflicts on the European continent. All attempts to find alternative foreign policy strategies to tackle conflicts have failed.

This is obvious from Ukraine to the Balkans to the South Caucasus. Tensions remain high everywhere once enlargement is put on hold and discarded. Take the Caucasus for instance. Recent years have seen a war (Georgia in 2008). There are continued casualties along the Armenian-Azerbaijani cease-fire line. The borders between the territory controlled by Georgia and the land controlled by Abkhaz and South Ossetian troops are tense. International diplomacy has resembled a string of failed initiatives by the US, Russia, Turkey, Germany or the EU whenever one of them made an effort to actually try to solve any of these seemingly intractable conflicts.

This failure to find alternative policies to avert regional conflicts is the conundrum facing European policy makers today. Neither Europe nor the US have shown any evidence that they can remake either Afghanistan or the Middle East. But in South East and Eastern Europe, all the tools exist to prevent a return to the tragedies of the 20th century. In this case, it really is a matter of will and vision. Or sadly, lack thereof, as we see now in Kiev.

In the Western Balkans the process of enlargement linked to conflict has produced the most impressive results for EU foreign policy anywhere in the world, post 1999. (This too might be put at risk unless enlargement retains its mobilising power for reforms).

In the South Caucasus the absence of even a vague promise of enlargement coincides with paralysis, frozen conflicts, closed borders, and rising regional mistrust.

As for Ukraine, the images from Kiev speak for themselves. Where just recently peaceful crowds were waving the European flag, snipers have moved in.

Enlargement has stabilized the continent like no other policy. There is still demand for it. And yet, for now, there is no supply.

And so today, ten years after 2004, there is a choice again between two courses of action in the face of failure.

One seems easier in the short term: to resign. To note that “the late 90s are over,” that enlargement has “not really worked” (as if the EU crises today had been caused by Bulgarian accession), that it cannot be defended in front of sceptical publics, that the EU lacks leaders.

The alternative option is to recognise and explain, again and again, what a nightmare of insecurity a small EU would face today. One in which Bulgaria, Romania, and certain Baltic countries would not have been admitted, and no promise would have been made to Serbia and other Balkan states in 2003 at the EU Thessaloniki summit.

It is to make a strong case to offer a membership perspective to Moldova and Georgia today – and expect them to meet the Copenhagen political criteria.

To maintain the pan-European instruments to defend democracy also in the East – ODIHR for election monitoring, the Council of Europe (today almost farcically useless in the East).

To take a serious look at the instruments the EU is currently using – in Turkey, in the Balkans – and sharpen them.

For the EU to use all available tools – visa bans, competition policy, support to independent media – to confront the Russian vision of “managed democracy” (which is just neo-autocracy).

To fight for release of all political prisoners. And to focus on the East not just when the streets are burning… and not only in Vilnius or Stockholm, but also in Madrid and Rome.

To defend the vision of “one Europe, whole and free.”

This is still the only credible alternative to a return to 20th century horrors. And the cheapest security and foreign policy there is for the EU.

PS: Anne Applebaum’s review of Bloodlands:

“This region was also the site of most of the politically motivated killing in Europe—killing that began not in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, but in 1933, with the famine in Ukraine. Between 1933 and 1945, fourteen million people died there, not in combat but because someone made a deliberate decision to murder them. These deaths took place in the bloodlands, and not accidentally so: “Hitler and Stalin rose to power in Berlin and Moscow,” writes Snyder, “but their visions of transformation concerned above all the lands between.”

[1] Michael Emerson , “The Black Sea as Epicentre of the Aftershocks of the EU’s Earthquake”, CEPS Policy Brief 79, July 2005, p. 3.

Oped in Falter on the protests in Bosnia: “Aufstand in Bosnien: die Chance der EU”

Die Proteste in Bosnien können die Krise auch vertiefen. Die EU sollte dem Land eine Beitrittsperspektive bieten.

Gastkommentar: Alexandra Stiglmayer

Als sich vergangenen Freitag die Nachrichten über massenweise Proteste in Bosnien und Herzegowina verbreiteten, dachten einige Bosnienkenner: „Na endlich!“. Seit Jahren leidet das Land unter politischer Lähmung und wirtschaftlicher Stagnation, die die Bevölkerung bislang stillschweigend erduldet hat.

Das Ausmaß der bei den Demonstrationen verursachten Zerstörungen machte bald einer gewissen Ernüchterung Platz, aber noch immer ist in vielen Kommentaren von einem „bosnischen Frühling“ und „Weckruf“ die Rede.

Ob die noch immer andauernden und nun friedlichen Demonstrationen ein Aufbruch sein werden, muss sich allerdings noch herausstellen. Sie könnten das Land auch noch tiefer in die Krise führen.

Vieles ist noch ungewiss, aber drei Dinge sind festzuhalten. Erstens: Es handelt sich um keine landesweiten Proteste. Bislang protestieren Bosniaken gegen bosniakische Regierungen auf größtenteils kantonaler Ebene (vier von zehn Kantonsregierungen sind zurückgetreten). Das heißt, es handelt sich um keine multi-ethnische Bewegung, die das Land enger zusammenbringen wird.

Zweitens: Die Proteste haben (bislang) keine ethnischen Konnotationen. Das ist ermutigend. Es geht um Perspektivlosigkeit, Arbeitslosigkeit, Korruption und Vetternwirtschaft. Allerdings sind viele der Forderungen illusionär, und das ist gefährlich.

Es gibt kein Geld, um Sozialleistungen anzuheben. Es ist utopisch zu glauben, dass man die Privatisierung ehemaliger staatseigener Konglomerate rückgängig machen und diese Unternehmen wieder in Betrieb nehmen kann.

Diese Forderung beruht auf dem in Bosnien bei allen Bevölkerungsschichten – sogar bei jungen Leuten – verbreiteten Irrglauben, dass das sozialistische Bosnien der 70er und 80er Jahre eine florierende Wirtschaft mit starken Unternehmen hatte, die erst in der wilden Nachkriegsprivatisierung „vernichtet“ wurden.

Dem ist mitnichten so – schon Anfang der 80er Jahre arbeiteten fast alle dieser Unternehmen mit großen Verlusten. Dann folgten Krieg, Vertreibungen, Zerstörungen. Bevor die Privatisierung begann, waren diese Betriebe bereits bankrott.

Drittens: Bei den Protesten geht es nicht um die bei dem Friedensabkommen von Dayton geschaffene Struktur des Landes, die oft für den politischen Stillstand verantwortlich gemacht wird. Das ist ermutigend, denn tiefgreifende Verfassungsänderungen sind in multi-ethnischen Ländern immer äußerst heikel. Tatsächlich ist weder der Zustand der kantonalen Regierungen noch der Wirtschaft eine Folge von „Dayton“.

Aus all dem muss auch die EU Lehren ziehen. Sie hat ihr Augenmerk auf die Umsetzung des sogenannten Sejdic-Finci-Urteils des Europäischen Gerichtshofs für Menschenrechte aus dem Jahre 2009 gerichtet. Diese erfordert eine Verfassungsänderung, würde allerdings am Funktionieren Bosniens kaum etwas ändern.

Dennoch hat die EU die Umsetzung des Urteils sogar zur Bedingung für eine EU-Bewerbung Bosniens gemacht. Trotz hunderter Treffen und des beachtlichen persönlichen Einsatzes von EU-Erweiterungskommissar Stefan Füle haben es die bosnischen Vertreter nicht geschafft, sich auf eine Lösung zu einigen. Diese Zeit wäre besser zur Lösung von Bosniens wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Problemen verwendet worden.

Was nun? Die EU und europäische Regierungen (auch regionale) sollten sich Bosniens dringend annehmen. Sie müssen vor allem darauf hinwirken, dass weitere Demonstrationen friedlich sind, denn neue Gewalt könnte in Bosnien schnell in inter-ethnische Gewalt umschlagen.

Sie sollten auf allen Ebenen Kontakte suchen und den neuen und alten kantonalen Regierungen technische Hilfe anbieten, um Wirtschaftspolitik zu betreiben und berechtigte Forderungen der Demonstranten zu erfüllen, beispielsweise nach weniger Privilegien für Politiker.

Sie sollten gleichzeitig klar aussprechen, dass eine Rückkehr zur Arbeiterselbstverwaltung des Bosniens der 70er Jahre, wie sie Demonstranten in Tuzla eben erst forderten, eine Utopie ist, dass es kein Geld für höhere Sozialausgaben gibt, und dass der Weg zu mehr Wohlstand hart sein wird.

Gleichzeitig sollte die Europäische Kommission damit beginnen, an den notwendigen Reformen zu arbeiten. Das Beste wäre, Bosnien bald zu erlauben, sich um EU-Mitgliedschaft zu bewerben, da dies eine sofortige tiefere Analyse der Gesetze, Praktiken und Standards nach sich ziehen würde, die Bosniens Probleme konkret offenlegen würde.

In Bosnien selbst ist nicht nur zu hoffen, dass die Demonstrationen friedlich bleiben, sondern dass sich unter den Demonstranten auch Führer herauskristallisieren, die das Vertrauen der Menschen und genug politisches Verständnis haben, um das zu fordern, was notwendig, aber auch möglich ist, und die vielleicht bereit sind, bei den Oktober-Wahlen selbst anzutreten.

Die politische Klasse Bosniens wiederum muss anfangen, ihre Wähler und ihre Sorgen ernst zu nehmen. Sie muss Utopien – wie die einer neuen Verfassung, mit der „alles gut wird“, oder sozialer Wohltaten – verabschieden. Sie muss öffentliche Gelder sorgsamer hüten. Sie muss ihre Privilegien aufgeben. Es wird ein Lernprozess sein, der dauern wird und mündige Bürger erfordert.

Wenn all das passiert, dann können die Demonstrationen einen Neuanfang bedeuten.


Die Autorin arbeitet in Brüssel als Senior Analyst für die European Stability Initiatve