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Saturday, 4 June 2011

After arrest of General Ratko Mladić the question is: Should Serbia be the next member of the European Union? I guess the answer should be: Yes!

On May 26th, 2011, General Ratko Mladić, former commander-in-chief of the army of the Republika Srpska in Bosnia-Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia), was arrested after being into hiding for more than 16 years. With his arrest, the main condition for a membership of the European Union for Serbia has been fulfilled.

Ratko Mladić, together with Slobodan Karadzić, was held responsible for the siege of the Bosnian town Srebenica. In this town, at the time protected by a heavily underarmed Dutch battalion, on July 11th, 1995,  about 7000 muslim men were taken away and killed. The Dutch army just stood there and couldn´t do anything to prevent it. This was one of the darkest pages of Dutch military history after the 2nd World War.

After the situation in former Yugoslavia normalized, more and more people in the European Union were in favor of a Serbian membership of the EU, after Slovenia. Croatia also wants to become a member of the EU.

The Netherlands vetoed this decision as long as Karadzić and Mladić were free, but promised to decide in favor as soon as these two men should be arrested. Until 2011, the pressure on The Netherlands was increasing, but Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen stood his ground. And now both men are held captive in Scheveningen, in custody of the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague.

And Serbia now demands bang-for-the-buck:”we kept our promise to arrest Karadzić and Mladić, now The Netherlands must keep its promise to allow Serbia to become a member of the EU”.

And The Netherlands… has its doubts about that.

To understand this, you have to take a look at the political situation in The Netherlands. There is a right-wing, minority cabinet in power, consisting of the CDA (Christian-democrats) and the VVD (liberal-conservatives). As this is a minority cabinet, it needed a silent partner that supports most decisions of the cabinet, but is no member of it: the PVV of infamous leader Geert Wilders.  PVV means Party for “freedom” and its main topics are: populism, anti-islam, anti-immigration, anti-European Union, reactionary and law-and-order.

As the PVV is anti-Europe and has a strong influence on the cabinet, there is a chance that The Netherlands might not vote in favor of the European membership. The PVV thinks there is already too much Europe as-is. Making the Serbs a member of the EU, would add another relatively poor country to the ´long list´ of countries with a shaky financial situation (the PIIGS, Eastern Europe and The Baltic countries). VVD and CDA look at their feet, knowing they made a promise to Serbia in the past, but don´t like to be bullied by their silent, populist partner.

Knowing the recent past and the financial situation of Serbia, it would be easy to dismiss this country as an EU-member. In my opinion, however, this would be a mistake:

First, Serbia has always had good relations with Russia. Now denying Serbia to become a member of the EU, would insult the country and might drive it further into the arms of Moscow than is desirable. When Serbia is a member of the EU, it can be an important intermediary between Moscow and Brussels.

Second, Serbia in the EU might bring more stability in the Balkans and… stability is a priceless commodity in these trying times of increasing anti-Europeanism, nationalism, international turmoil and socionomical unrest in many European countries.

Third, an increasing standard of living in the Eastern European countries is an opportunity for the Western European countries. All these countries search for market outlets for their luxury goods (cars and white goods) and financial services, agricultural produce and foodstuffs.

Fourth, China is looking for new market outlets and new ways to expand their sphere of influence in Southern and Eastern Europe. An alienated Serbia would be an easy target for China. Making Serbia a member of the EU would slow down this expansion a little. I am absolutely not anti-China, but I doubt if the Chinese expansion politics is very much `pro-Europe´.

For me there are enough reasons to make Serbia an EU-member. Therefore I hope that cheap populism and anti-European sentiment in The Netherlands will lose and wisdom and understanding prevail. Because a strong, unified Europe gives all countries the best chances to survive the aftermath of the credit crisis.


  1. Who's gonna pay for all this, jackhole. You? I suggest that the reactionaries (the pro EU and anti democracy crowd) who love the EU so much volunteer to pay 10% extra tax and hand over 20% of their pension funds to pay for all this. After all people like you love the EU.

    I hate the EU so I will not pay. I am against reactionary politics.

  2. I guess I am going to pay for this, yes.
    And I guess it will be worth our while, due to new markets and new export possibilities.

    That you don't agree with this, fine. But I don't want you to curse on my site. If you want to do so, go to another site and knock yourself out.