In an interview for IBNA news agency, professor of European Law and analyst, Bardhyl Hasanpapaj talks about the EU enlargement process in the countries of Western Balkan. He says that citizens of these countries want to adhere in this organization, but currently, the EU has its own strategic interests for the inclusion of these states in it. According to him, political fragmentation within the EU with the empowerment of parties belonging to the extreme right, are damaging the process of enlargement for this organization. Prof. Dr. Hasanpapaj says that Kosovo and Serbia must normalize their stately relations in their path toward EU, while Skopje must solve all domestic and external problems. As far as Albania and other countries are concerned, he says that they must meet the political and economic criteria of Copenhagen and that a more intensive dialogue is needed between opposition parties and majority.
IBNA: Do the Balkan countries have any other alternative besides integration in the European Atlantic structures?
Hasanpapaj: Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia at the start of 90’s, the majority of republics that comprised this federation have aspired to become EU and NATO members. This, due to the fact that historically, Balkan has been under the influence of large states or empires. These countries have constantly seen the EU as a gate to the West and an opportunity to be developed economically. Citizens of these countries want to be integrated in this European organization, but currently, the adherence of these countries in the EU is not in line with the EU’s strategic objectives.
IBNA: What are the main factors that are hindering the enlargement of EU with the Balkan?
Hasanpapaj: The political fragmentation within the EU with the strengthening of extreme right wing parties are seriously damaging the enlargement of this organization. Parties such as the National Front in France, UK Independent Party in Britain, Free Party in Holland and many other movements, continue to increase the number of Euro skeptics in Europe through their policies. Protagonists of these parties cannot accept the fact that enlargement has contributed in the free movement of people in this continent, that it has offered better business opportunities for European companies, a better living standard, more influence of the EU in the world arena in expanding democratic values, etc. They claim that with the new accessions, EU has become harder to be managed and that with the growth of diversity, there’s been an increase in the feeling of insecurity. They intimidate Europeans by saying that this process can endanger their jobs.
IBNA: What will be the impact of these policies in the process of EU enlargement?
Hasanpapaj: If they find room to expand, these policies will defeat the hopes of the Balkan countries to be integrated. They will certainly have their impact by making the EU enlargement a slower process and a selective one. But, the tasks of Balkan politicians will be more difficult and comprise many challenges. They must work more in order to promote cohabitation, diversity, cooperation in the economic, political dimension and other domains.
IBNA: What are the main problems that the countries of the region are facing in their path toward integration in the European family?
Hasanpapaj: There are numerous problems. Let us start from Kosovo, where the situation is more complex. The political future of Kosovo is intertwined with the status of its negotiations with Serbia, but in any case, the situation becomes even more complex with the five EU member countries that have not yet recognized Kosovo. Meanwhile, it’s a known fact that Serbia has a hostile history with its neighbors. In this aspect, the normalization of relations with Kosovo is important and this process will not be easy, because Serb leaders are still governed by strong nationalist sentiments.
This process will not happen if Serbia doesn’t apologize for the crimes committed during the last war in Kosovo. This process is necessary in order to continue with structural reforms in economy, judicial system and other domains. As far as Macedonia is concerned, this country must solve its external and domestic problems, which have mined this process. In the domestic plan, Macedonia must stop promoting the ethnocentric Slav-Macedonian state and the cultivation of ethnic biasness. In the external plan, Macedonia must improve relations with neighboring countries, especially with Greece and Bulgaria. As far as Albania is concerned, it must continue and fulfill the political and economic criteria of Copenhagen. In this country there must be more intensive talks between opposition parties and the majority. /ibna/
* Bardhyl Hasanpapaj currently is the General Director of his own founded company “Kosovo Legal Services Company” (KLSC) while he is teaching EU Law and International Organizations at the Law Faculty of the University of Pristina.
Among other engagements, Bardhyl Hasanpapaj has worked as Legal Adviser to the Kosovo Minister of Justice, Legal Adviser to the USAID funded project “Kosovo Justice Support Program”, implemented by NCSC, Director of the Research Service of the USAID/NDI “Kosovo Assembly Strengthening Program”, Program Coordinator at the EU funded Project “Support to Kosovo Prime Ministers Office” implemented by GTZ, etc. Bardhyl Hasanpapaj has worked as Legal Consultant on a number of projects funded by EU, USAID, OSCE, UNDP and other international organizations in Kosovo.