Boris Tadic warned Europe in an editorial today that EU’s rejection of Serbia’s candidacy tomorrow may signal his ouster from power in the next election and a return to the dark days of nationalism. This was an appeal to Euro-fanatics, the lesser, ideological current behind the devouring, err, uniting of European democracies into a single state. The main postulate of these Euro-preachers who drive the process of Euro-integrations, roaming the halls of Brussels, elected by no one and accountable to no demos, is the notion that nationalism is the archdanger to European peace and the reason for all the wars and destruction otherwise docile European peoples had been subjected to prior to the grand invention that is the European Union. Tadic, otherwise devoid of ideologies and principles, tried to remind the Euro-fanatics that he’s one of them and his position (read: delivery of Serbia into the EU submission) - and theirs by association – was seriously undermined by the prospect of a refusal of candidacy that Serbian Euro-skeptics and Euro-opponents have been gloating over.
This statement, combined with Tadic’s decision to send Serbian police to dismantle the roadblocks set up on the administrative checkpoints in North Kosovo – looks like an act of desperation. The D-Day is tomorrow. Angela Merkel has voiced her opposition, however tacit, to Serbia becoming a candidate. He’s practically begging to be kept in power. But it’s not about what Tadic is doing as much as it is about the fact that his relationship with Germany came to this low point. Tadic was the successor to Zoran Djindjic in more than one way – one of the most important being the continuation of German influence over Belgrade policies. American influence, imposed by Colin Powell when he confidently stood behind Zoran Zivkovic after the Djindjic assassination, was short-lived. Zivkovic was gone soon after, the American coup was successful only to the point of the removal of Djindjic and German influence continued to dictate Serbian policies, pretending to navigate them towards the promised, but conditioned EU ascendancy. Today, Tadic succumbed to begging Germany to save him, going as far as to exaggerate the threat of reviled nationalism. If Tadic is not confident December 9th will bear him victory, and is still jockeying toward the desired outcome one day ahead of the decision, then Tadic’s future as the favorite Serbian son of Angela Merkel is looking gloomy.
We knew the announcement of Serbia ascending to the candidacy status meant little in a technical sense – Turkey’s been a candidate for about a decade. But I expected Merkel – I keep insisting on Merkel because it really doesn’t matter what the Dutch or the Poles want, nor do they care – to continue the carrot and stick game because she could. She could make Serbia a candidate without acceding anything in reality, without producing any real progress or advantage for Serbia, or a setback for her own interests in the region. One thing the candidacy would produce would be a tangible advantage for Boris Tadic, despite his unconstitutional behavior regarding North Kosovo. Candidacy would be spun to the Serbian public to mean a great success, the end of all tribulations, a finally guaranteed European future… Dust would be thrown in people’s eyes once again and the waning support for Tadic’s “Europe has no alternative” agenda would be reinvigorated. It might be enough to win another election, or at least to come close enough to rig it with the help of NGOs and international monitors. So, Merkel has nothing to lose by giving Serbia candidacy, yet, one day before the decision Tadic’s political future hedges on, she apparently hasn’t promised anything.
Why would Merkel risk the loss of such a loyal subject and a pawn in Boris Tadic?He’s begging you, Angela, to accept him. There are not many possible explanations. One must be connected to the brink of collapse the EU is tiptoeing along. Simply, the EU powers might have decided to mind their own survival. In lieu of the proposal for a multi-level membership, it still doesn’t cost the EU anything to give Tadic crumbs and prolong his political life. Again, the candidacy doesn’t mean much and the EU can simply put off to a more fitting moment any obligation Serbia’s candidacy brings. If Merkel does not even want to show that much mercy, the problem for Boris Tadic runs much deeper.
If Serbia doesn’t win candidacy on December 9, my third theory might sound most legit. It is a combination of several sub-theories, all based in my old forecast that the Western powers have never intended to allow Serbia to join their realm. The past 20 years of active policy were not geared towards reformation of a straying, rogue Balkan state, but towards its complete humiliation and demolition. The North Atlantic community has not made any single move to show that it changed its course, that it softened its attitudes towards Serbs and Serbia. Was Boris Tadic misled down the bumpy trail of empty promises and deceived into believing that acceding to all demands and repenting for all the sins would accomplish forgiveness and acceptance by Europe? Or was he just another collaborator with the enemy bearing a Serbian name? It’s irrelevant. What’s relevant now is that after all the repenting Serbia finds itself dismembered, economically and militarily at its weakest ever and with irreconcilable political course proposals. If the only visible result of the ostensible reform attempts by the Western powers is the utter weakening of Serbia’s capacity to function independently, to defend itself and to economically sustain itself, and all this after Serbia has fulfilled all the Western demands, there is one question begging to be answered: What reason do Serbs have to believe that any further interaction with the Western powers is aiming to bring anything but further humiliation and weakening? If the only outcome of this interaction thus far has been Serbia on its knees, then we must realize that this was the intended outcome all along.
But why would the Western powers not accept Serbia so repentant, so humbled, so altered from its unconformist self? Possible answer: the spheres of interest have been divided and whatever will be left of Serbia after the dismemberment is over has not been planned to be part of the Western European (read: German) interest sphere. It could be left to Russia, which I doubt, or it could be set up as a firewall against the oncoming Turkish return to the region it once ruled. I could even see it so weakened that it falls under a direct Turkish influence. Despite the globalization effects being a powerful force in altering national character, all the interested parties still want to be on the safe side and minimize Serbia’s capacity to create problems before any inclusion into any interest structure. I’m not Milos Tarabic, so I won’t pretend I can predict future, however.
Tomorrow is December 9th, the day of reckoning for Boris Tadic. The lipstick on his pig has never looked so bleak. He was on his knees today, and regardless of how tomorrow turns out, he’ll stay on his knees and Serbia with him. The process of her humiliation will not end with the December 9 decision, even if it brings the candidacy status. If it doesn’t, however, I am praying a long overdue wake-up call will ring through Serbian hard ears.