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Polish Presidency

Submitted by on 05 May 2011 – 15:03

Dr. Miodrag Vukovic MP, President, Committee on Foreign Relations and European Integration, Parliament of Montenegro

The region of Southeast Europe, and particularly the Balkans, need to be supported. Support is needed across the region and from all who can provide assistance. The support is needed because the countries of the region are maturing in the democratic sense of the word, and that democratic maturing means their inevitable confrontation with their own selves, and also with each other.

The countries in the region should be supported, but above all they need to help themselves. Their efforts need to be encouraged to strengthen their internal democratic structures and weaken the conservative and nationalist ones. This is also an obligation on those who provide assistance in the region and for the region itself, and for each country in the region individually. Therefore, the effort must be shared and integrated. The effort to achieve this must be obvious and indiscriminate. Europe has to support and encourage, but must not have its favorites or neglect those whose personal efforts can serve as an example. The region can be supported, but the region must primarily be self-supported.

The cooperation among the countries in the region is the beginning and end of the necessary efforts involved. The cooperation in economy, culture, cooperation among intellectuals, civil society cooperation and cooperation of people from the political institutions is not only the necessary beginning but also the beginning of the path from which there can be no deviation. This cooperation includes identifying areas and interests where some common actions may take place in the interests of all, and at the same time freeing up all those loads that led in the recent past, instead of cooperation, to some other tragic forms of communication in this area.

In order to cooperate one has to be ready for cooperation. The countries in the region need to be personally qualified as democratic entities able to respect the others, accept them as partners, and make mutual agreements on an equal basis. This sole form of acceptable cooperation means an absence of political and civil prepotency which always tends towards showing size as the only parameter of successful cooperation and the domination of one’s own nationalism as the only both national and social goal.

The region is the most unstable area in Europe where no commotion has remained localized. Only through cooperation and democracy can the closure, xenophobia, national and chauvinistic domination be fought against. But this is not something that can be completed in a short time. Years need to go by for this area to take on the value system of the European Union, become freed from the domination of its own history, which is the history of conflict rather than cooperation over a collective future. Therefore, there is a need to observe more subtly the political, cultural and overall configuration of individual countries and the region as a whole, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

What should be appreciated more responsibly is the level of their genuine willingness to change, to become free of delusions, not to believe that it is better to be outside the world. In accordance with this situation, all actors need to position their respective ambitions and expectations not to be in conflict with actual reality. There must be an awareness that the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are still alive and that they would, instead of cooperation and understanding, willingly go back into wars and conflicts. The international community, which has invested and still invests tremendous human and financial resources in order to support the region, as it should continue to do, should also look upon this area less administratively and more in a politically subtle way.

Those involved should not be disappointed if the desired goal is not achieved by the first step. They should constantly keep encouraging young democratic structures in each country and the region as a whole. They should keep assessing how the investment is returned and whether in the recent past some political leaders who were deserved to be declared a solution by the international community, emerged later on as a problem. Milosevic – Dayton, Kostunica – Kosovo, and many of those similar to them. There are some entities in the region acting in a manner disruptive and unknown to Western democracy, those that are not much in the focus of the democratic public. The first and foremost of these is the Church which is a threat, due to its aggressive policy, and then a conservative governmental policy across the region, of going back in time instead of going to the future.

Also, not all that shines is gold. Not even all those fighting for democracy are the same. Warmongers are indeed a problem of this area, but also a number of anti-war heroes in the post-war times that benefit greatly, especially some NGOs. The other day a meeting organized by NGOs discussed reconciliation in the region as a precondition for these relations. Firstly, some members of NGOs were born after the dramatic events of recent times, so that they have indirect information about them, and of dubious quality. On the other hand, young people from the region ask who they need to be reconciled with since they did not quarrel with anyone and say that they will leave this to those who, these days, after the verdict for Croatian generals, threaten new instability in the region, long-lasting misunderstanding between Serbia and Kosovo, Macedonia’s name issue, and renewed conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Montenegro is the smallest in this region, the only one where no war was fought and which remains a partner, not a problem, which has cooperated and still cooperates with everyone who accepts it as an equal partner; it stands in no one’s way and only asks the others not to stand in its way. But Montenegro wonders whether Montenegro constantly has to be sick with pneumonia whenever someone catches a cold in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially in Serbia. Should Montenegro, as it has done in the recent years, constantly keep shaking due to the aggressive behavior of the clergy of the Serbian Orthodox Church in this country? In a word, the region should be helped in the same way as the region needs to help itself.

We must insist on cooperation and encourage good examples. Wee should never look the other way, because we should always bear in mind the recently communicated position of a Bosnian academic: “Our area, the entire South Slavic region, is the area where no forgetting practically exists. The guilt is forever, the sons inherit as their own cross what used to be the cross of their ancestors. What is easy to erase in the West or simply turn a new page, is not possible here.” It is not good that this is so, but it is even worse to ignore this reality and simulate that something which does not exist is there.