The "Brdo-Brijuni" Summit showed the power of pragmatic diplomacy in finding a solution without a mentor

Željko Šajn
Source: Kosovo Online

Writing for Kosovo Online: Zeljko Sain, Politika's special correspondent from Skopje

As an instrument of national power, diplomacy began to develop its roots even before the new era, when China, India, and ancient Greek cities turned constructive conversations in mutual communication into diplomatic practices. Dialogue became the strongest tool in achieving political goals, retaining that power to this day. Although we are witnessing that the dialogue is cut short by talking of arms, it is certain that a solution can be brought about only by this diplomatic method.

The "Brdo-Brijuni" Summit in Skopje, held on September 11, brought the dialogue back to the stage under full light and demonstrated the success of constructive diplomacy among the heads of state of the Western Balkans, as evidenced by the signed Declaration, which in its essential content proves that the members of the initiative "Brdo-Brijuni" are united in their desire to achieve the European integration path and become members of the European family by 2030. This is particularly important to point out in view of the very complex problems that exist both internally and bilaterally in the countries of the Western Balkans, first of all, the relationship between Belgrade and Pristina, where Resolution 1244 is not respected according to public international law, or the relationship between Skopje and Sofia, where through the EU, Bulgaria disputes the European integration processes of North Macedonia and conditions this country with a new change in the Constitution. Also, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the problem of Schmidt and his legitimacy and legality arising from the Dayton Agreement is open.

Certainly, the heads of state of the Western Balkans, the most fragile area in Europe and beyond, whose political tectonic disturbances have often changed the map of the world, at this summit, where they stayed almost an hour longer than the scheduled protocol, instilled hope in the strength of unity, showing that they can better agree on each issue themselves than through mentors who impose their conditions, often without any political sense, guided solely by their own interests.

The European Union, imposing again and again new conditions for the admission of the countries of the Western Balkans, has been permanently keeping these countries at a distance for years, postponing the enlargement of the European Union, under the pretext that reforms within the Union are necessary, when in fact it is a question of unclear relations between the EU leaders themselves and their game for supremacy. Macron, the President of France, was especially apostrophized, not only by the host Pendarovski, whose country has already faced the hypocritical policy of the West and broken promises but also by the co-host of the Summit, Croatian President Milanovic, who pointed out that he saw no reason in the EU's act to give Ukraine a faster path to accession agreements than Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this light, we cannot resist Tito's statement, "Well, for God’s sake, should we start the war so that you accept us in the EU?"

The Serbian and Croatian Presidents gave speeches to the media after the Summit in Skopje, showing that their countries have inherited great diplomatic experience and are guided by Kissinger's pragmatic rule that the dialogue is conducted on what is on the table, not on wishes. Aleksandar Vucic, as the most experienced leader in the Western Balkans, at the table in Skopje did not reveal the contents of the Brussels Agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, nor the latest provocations by Kurti in Tetovo, when, promoted as the President of all Albanians, he revived the idea of creating a "Greater Albania". Based on his experience in international diplomacy, President Vucic and his team assessed that it was better and more effective to discuss European integration processes than to encourage issues that were resolved at the level of the European Union, while the EU itself could not cope with its promises.

On the other hand, unlike Vucic, Denis Becirovic, a Bosniak member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, showed his diplomatic inexperience by posting on Instagram a video of a part of his address at the Summit, thus violating the debating rule known as the "Chatham House rule", which this summit respects, since the foundation. Namely, it implies a ban on recording the address of any participant at such a meeting, and in particular, publication is prohibited. With such an action, Becirovic could threaten the already shaken credibility of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

However, as the "Open Balkan" initiative has already shown, the "Brdo-Brijuni" Summit in Skopje also demonstrated the power of pragmatic diplomacy in finding solutions without mentors, because the perspective of life lies in mutual agreement, and not in mentoring wishes imposed by foreigners, in the spirit of their interests, and it is not excluded that, in fact, the disputed Balkans favors them. Let's keep in mind that the "Open Balkan" was not warmly welcomed by the EU, as well as the fact that it is strictly opposed by Kurti, who by his actions fuels hatred and creates sparks of ethnic conflict. On the other hand, Montenegro believes that, above all, even without the "Open Balkan", it can join the EU.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is divided when it comes to joining the "Open Balkan" because the Muslim part does not see the perspective of this initiative, stating that there is a Berlin Process while forgetting that the "Open Balkan" resulted from the Berlin Process.

The dialogue on this key strategic issue of the Western Balkans will continue today in Brussels. The year 2030 is not far away, but it is certainly not a guarantee that the countries of the Western Balkans will enter the European Union within that period. It depends on us, but much more on the leaders of the EU, and we have North Macedonia as an example of constant delays in joining the European family.