Organised by the Montenegro Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Diplomatic Academy, Kolasin
A New Architecture in the Western Balkans
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Half a century ago the British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, summed up the zeitgeist of the post-colonial world when he told skeptical members of parliament in
Macmillan added that, whether his listeners liked it or not, this phenomenon was “a political fact”.
Some of the Prime Minister’s audience resisted the change he described, and spent the next thirty years in collective denial, vainly trying to hold back a political process that was unstoppable.
Half a century on, we can see very clearly the way in which that wind of change reshaped not just Africa but the whole world, replacing the colonial architecture of the first part of the 20th century with a new paradigm in which countries such as
The moral of this is that you cannot turn back history.
You cannot pretend that the world around you remains the same.
It doesn’t remain the same. It changes.
It changes constantly.
It changes significantly.
And the only sensible response to such change is to live with it and benefit from it.
This matters to everyone in our region – because today a wind of change is blowing across
Some leaders have recognised this fact and are beginning to leverage the change into benefits for their own people.
Others have yet to understand what is happening around them.
A New Architecture
We are meeting in Podogorica this week after four months of intensive bilateral and multilateral exchanges in the region that, taken together, can justly be described as an evolving New Architecture of the region.
The resolution adopted by the Serbian parliament in March, apologising for the massacre in Srebrenica in 1995, created a necessary context for a long process of reengagement. The Serbian parliament’s initiative made progress possible in political, judicial, social and diplomatic spheres.
As spring took hold, leaders in the region demonstrated a real capacity to break down barriers.
In mid April Croatian President Ivo Josipovic asserted in the BiH parliament in
This strength has not been absent in recent months.
President Josipovic visited
At the end of April, in
President Tadic was in
At the end of May, in
Speaking after the
Again, stress was laid on the fact that no one stands to lose and everyone stands to gain from this process.
President Vujanovic noted the primary importance of the “values” which are embedded in the European integration process and which can sustain the internal development and external relations of the Western Balkan countries.
At the beginning of June, during the EU-Western Balkans meeting organised in Sarajevo by the Spanish Presidency, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Catherine Ashton, and Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle reaffirmed the underlying premise of eastward expansion, which is that the Western Balkans are essential components of an enlarged European Union.
Western Balkan participants in the meeting promised to intensify the pace of reforms and further strengthen cooperation among themselves in the move towards
Commissioner Füle called for not just a will to resolve problems the region faces, but “a collective will” to resolve collective problems. This “collective will” that overcomes rifts of the past, aims at regional reconciliation and looks to a common future for the region within the European Union is exactly what I would define as the essential element of the emerging architecture of this region.
In the first half of 2010 we have seen incontrovertible evidence that this collective will does exist and that it is now strong enough and sustained enough to overcome strategic problems.
Already we have seen significant progress in meeting EU visa requirements, in
To cap this extended period of diplomatic progress, the Summit of the Southeast European Cooperation Process concluded just two weeks ago with a declaration committing participants to take their countries “into European and Euro-Atlantic structures and to strengthen common values in the entire region.”
Those common values are market democracy, open society, and respect for individual and civil rights.
It is worth noting that at the SEECP Summit, Montenegro took over the rotating chairmanship of the SEECP, which will in turn be succeeded by
Coming to Terms with Change
Until now BiH citizens have been denied many of the advantages that can come from the hugely improved regional climate, from the new architecture.
There are three reasons for this.
The first is familiar:
The second reason is that politics in
The system can be made to work if there is a will to make it work – but the will that we have seen so amply demonstrated in recent months all across the region has yet to come into the ascendant in
The wind of change is blowing – it’s blowing right through
They will in due course, but they haven’t so far.
And the third reason is that we are in the midst of an extended election campaign, in which the default political position appears to be “noisy intransigence”. Some leaders seem to believe that the fastest way to electoral advantage is to say “no” – whatever the question.
The calculation is that voters want more of what they have had in the past and that they do not want constructive proposals that can win consensus.
All of the polling, however, indicates that this calculation is wrong – voters in
This reflects the changing zeitgeist – and it demands a political about-turn.
The question is not if but when this will happen.
It can even happen in the course of this election campaign – it can be reflected at the 3 October polls.
Or it may take longer, which would be a great pity because that means that the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina would have to wait longer before they can enjoy the benefits of the new architecture.
We will watch in the coming months for evidence of change in the election debate, indicating that political leaders in
Frankly, I do not see the logic of sticking to policies that have manifestly failed to deliver prosperity and security.
I see an overwhelming logic in applying inside
I see an overwhelming logic in abandoning the intransigence of the past and embracing a fresh approach.
As you know,
It is a fact that the legacy of the past conflict has metamorphosed into a relationship in which the predominant theme is cooperation and mutual advantage – the times have changed and with it attitudes and politics and ways of interacting have changed.
A Willingness to Find Solutions
The future belongs to the brave – and to the creative and the inclusive and the constructive and the innovative and the optimistic.
The great cloud of pessimism that has hovered for so long over the Western Balkans is at last being dispersed. We don’t see in the bright sunlight of optimism the sudden appearance of solutions. What we see is the appearance of a willingness to find solutions, to negotiate solutions, to create solutions, to build something together.
Some may resist the wind of change that is blowing across our part of the continent – but they cannot resist indefinitely, and the sooner this change is embraced, the sooner it will deliver the transformation that all of us want to see, and that is that all the states of the Western Balkans achieve stability and prosperity – through Euro-Atlantic integration and through the preservation of their distinctive characteristics and the full development of their individual potential.
I am hopeful that in the coming months the same progress can be made in Bosnia and Herzegovina that has been made right across the region since the beginning of the year.