When one runs into a headline "Balkan 'Benelux' would speed up EU entry" the thought of a successful regional customs union gets squashed by the oxymoron created by mingling the word "Balkan" with the word "Benelux." There is nothing "Beneluxian" about the Balkans, nor there is a genuine desire among the warring Balkan nations to erase borders between them; if anything, the tendency to carve additional borders is as present as ever. Benelux Customs Union served as a core for the economic powerhouse of European Coal and Steel Community, the predecessor of the European Economic Community, which deteriorated into a political empire and a stumbling economic behemoth with an uncertain direction and an even less certain future. The Dutch, the Belgians and the Luxembourg Germans formed it to advance business interests of their economic elites, to make production and trade cheaper for the already advanced local markets.
The cynic in me turned into a shocked cynic after I began reading the opinion piece and saw that the "Balkan Benelux" proposal is in fact a veiled promotion of the Prizren League-inspired ideal of Greater Albania! Yes, the writers, an Albanian from the Serbian province of Kosovo and an Austrian living in Albania, proposed that this union include Albania, Montenegro, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the rogue state of Kosovo. In other words, forget insurgency, terrorism, organ trafficking and other state-building methods; let the EU buy off the surrounding countries and give them on a silver plate to the "unifying" factor that is the Albanian people. If this hasn't been the goal of the pan-Albanian elites since at least 1878, I would laugh this proposal off. But it is far from a laughing matter, although the authors do add a form of a caveat:
"It is important to convince the international audiences that this is not some kind of Greater Albania through the back door."
Of course it is important. And they will take your word for it.
The proposed union, regardless of the pretenses it was proposed under, would round up the three countries and Kosovo, the NATO-occupied province of Serbia in which Albanians control close to 90 percent of the territory. Assuming the authors of the article meant for the entire NATO-occupied Kosovo to be subjugated to this "union," such a creation would be populated by about 7.5 million people and 5 million of them would be Albanians! Yes, the ethnic cleansing they have been conducting would produce a greater degree of domination, if completed, but the geopolitical situation may be changing and I'm not surprised that alternative, cleaner solutions for the question of Albanian expansionist appetites are being sought. Regardless of the laws governing relationships between the four entities, Albanians dominate two of them, share power in the third and, as such, can hold the fourth one, Montenegro, a hostage to its Albanian minority.
The economic parallel of this proposal with the Beneluxian principle is as irrelevant as it is non-existent; there is no border between Albania and Kosovo to speak of; the one between Albania and Macedonia is as porous as any considering Albanians live on both sides of it and the Macedonian Albanians are more loyal to the cause of Greater Albania that to the state they live in; Montenegro is similar to Macedonia in this aspect. Add to this the fact that criminal industries such as drug trade, prostitution, human trafficking are often cited to take up a large portion of this region's economy, with a hub in Kosovo. It is easy to conclude that economic reasons cannot be the basis for creation of the Balkan Benelux, as the "goods'' already flow through "freely" and the production is virtually non-existent. You don't combine broken parts to make the engine work.
It is not surprising that this proposal is being peddled at the time of the seemingly no pasaran situation in North Kosovo. As Serbia continues to block Kosovo Albanians' independence and as the Kosovo Serbs continue to resist the Albanian occupation of the North, this new concoction could be seen as a circumvention maneuver. The authors are somewhat honest about it:
"Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia can also serve as stepping-stones for Kosovo towards Italy, Greece and the rest of EU."
They forget that Kosovo is not an independent state, and that after all, Greece does not recognize it.
If the rogue state of Kosovo illegally joins a union of independent states for the ostensible purpose of advancing regional cooperation and expediting the EU accession, then it automatically gets the international representation and recognition. If such a union is fast-tracked into the status of an EU candidate, then the question of the North Kosovo and of the Kosovo independence in general becomes a matter of a relationship between two EU candidates and a subject to even more pressure on Serbia from Brussels. In other words, it becomes an EU matter rather than a UN Security Council matter, negotiated according to Brussels-imposed rules rather than under the UNR 1244. And we have seen how the EU involvement has damaged Serbia's interests in its occupied province's status negotiations. What the EU members like Spain or Greece, who haven't recognized Kosovo, have to say to that has been rendered irrelevant by the current economic tumult they are in. In case this proposal surfaces as a viable political initiative, Greece may want to keep its head down and pray that the Greater Albania architects leave it outside of all the combinations.
Albania and the Kosovo Albanians would rush headfirst into this unification. Macedonia has never been a country that made its own decisions and, since 2001, its government is a power-sharing structure that mandates the active participation of its Albanian minority. The constant threat of an Albanian insurgency has Macedonia teetering on the brink of implosion. Montenegro, on the other hand, is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and since the entire country can be bought off by an average Western European bank, it is not crazy to expect that proposals like the ridiculously sounding Balkan Benelux do appeal to the already-blackmailed Montenegrin leadership, if arranged on some type of a bailout platter.
It would be a small step for the EU, but a gigantic one towards building a Greater Albania.
Following the trajectory of the Albanian aggressive expansionism, this looks like another fast one their pundits are trying to sneak in and pass as a viable option. Considering it serves the Euro-Atlantic expansionism as well as the Turkish inroads back into the Balkans - remember, the Prizren League promoted the Greater Albania ideals under the sovereignty of the Ottoman sultan - one has to be a fool to wave it off as a pipe dream.