One day Winston Churchill said that “the Balkans produce more history than they can digest”. And, in fact, the reality of the states born from the ashes of what once was Tito’s Yugoslavia, continues to look like one of those volcanoes, which, at first glance, appear dormient and inert. But by listening attentively we hear a grumble, indicating that something is moving under the crust, and that sooner or later there is the risk of a disastrous eruption.
As a reminder of the complexity of that area, year after year, recur the dates fixed in the history of humanity as a warning to present and past generations not to repeat past mistakes. And so July 11, for the past 17 years has marked one of those days that the Romans would have called "dies nefastus”. On that day in 1995, the Bosnian Serb troops in Srebrenica, gave the green light to the massacre of 8 000 Bosnian Muslim civilians. The world thus more helpless than indifferent witnessed what recently the International Court of Justice in The Hague, in the trial of Radovan Karadzic, defined as a genocide or a premeditated act, aimed at exterminating an entire people. A judgment is not assured given that the Court has acquitted the leader of Serbia from equally serious charges regarding other tragic events.
The consciousness of the rest of Europe has nurtured since then an unspoken indebtedness to the countries of that area, along with the knowledge that their union (not only geographical or economic!) will be complete only when also these countries will be involved. Given the diversity of languages, cultures and faiths who have found their home here over the centuries and which became, at the same time, a source of wealth but also a source of conflict whose consequences were felt throughout the Continent. After the 2006 impasse that followed EU27 enlargement, Brussels regained interest in the area, and began to play the leading role that in previous years it had abdicated in favor of Moscow and Washington. It thus managed to unlatch deadlocked negotiations and to obtain the definition of the date and time of the accession of Croatia (scheduled for July 1, 2013), proceeding towards the same goal with Belgrade. The most obvious result in this case is to bring Serbian war criminals to the International Criminal Court, although much remains to be done, notably in the resolution of the Kosovo issue.
The government of Prime Minister Cvetkovic has not participated in the recent regional conference on European integration and stability in the Balkans held in Croatia. The absence was officially motivated with the ongoing consultations in Belgrade for the formation of the new coalition government. In reality it was a clear signal of disapproval for the presence of representatives of Kosovo, whose self-proclaimed independence it has not yet endorsed.
Finally, a few days ago began the negotiations for the EU membership of Montenegro, a country that rarely finds space in Western media but which, thanks to its location on the Adriatic, has become a dangerous point of reference for international organized crime, marked by the epidemic of the spread of corruption. Podgorica needs support from the EU (towards which it already directs 50% of its exports and which has already received 235 million IPA funds for 2007-2013) to provide relief to an economy that, after the boom that ensued the independence from Serbia in 2006, is experiencing a remarkably difficult period.
The symbolic date of 2014 draws near. A century ago from the heart of the Balkans was sparked off the conflict at the end of which, for the Old Continent and its inhabitants, nothing was as before. For the EU the challenge is to build the future from here, for a long-lasting peace.