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Frank, your "realpolitik" approach with a 10 ton bulldozer is a recipe for... war. You may think it's a game, but if you follow Russian politics and media, they're itching for a fight, and I can understand them. It's this imperial logic of "your back yard and our back yard" as you point out, that sets nations on collision courses and creates the basis for violent conflicts.
The Serbs got along with the Albanians in Kosovo for hundreds of years - there were ups and downs, sure, but in general, the two populations managed to find common ground. As they did with the Bosnian Muslims and the Croats - in general. What's been happening in the Balkans over the past 20 years is largely the result of foreign imperial efforts to extend one's back yard at the expense of the other's.
You point to a real problem when you say: "the only nations that have clout in the EU are..." which is precisely the reason why Serbia's politicians aren't interested in joining the EU; they don't want to be just another banana republic in Germany's sphere of influence.
The second major problem, as Jérôme correctly points out, is making decisions impacting international law outside the UNSC.
What baffles me and disappoints me is that our continental EU politicians just can't seem to wrench themselves from Washington's and London's destabilizing policies. From missile defense to Kosovo, the Anglo-objective is to drive a wedge between Russia and continental EU... A number of reasons are behind this: ensuring that NATO continues to have a purpose and stays in Europe, keeping an energy rich and geographically imposing Russia at bay, and I would even add - contributing to instability in Europe itself, given that the real danger is in a rock solid EURO which is becoming the world's reserve currency of choice.
So, what I would expect from out dear leaders in Paris, Berlin and Brussels is to (in this order):
  1. Stick to international law and the UNSC
  2. Get an independent foreign policy which is in the interest of Continental europe
  3. Build constructive relations with Russia
by vladimir on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 09:14:41 AM EST
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Serbia's politicians aren't interested in joining the EU; they don't want to be just another banana republic in Germany's sphere of influence.

So they'd rather be a banana republic in Russia's sphere?  Doesn't that statement contradict the point you were trying to make (about independence from "backyard policy")? Seriously, what IS the third option?

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 12:33:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are correct to point out that there seems to be a contradiction.
However, you need to bear in mind that the Russians didn't drop 10 tons of depleted uranium on Serbia, nor did they destroy all 3 bridges in Novi Sad (of absolutely NO military significance), nor did they grind to rubble the petrochemical complex in Panchevo, causing an unprecedented rise in cancer rates... Let me say it again: The Eur 50 Billion of damage was not inflicted on Serbia by the Russians. The Russians are NOT trying to rip 20% of Serbia's land mass off the map and give it to a KLA drug dealing gang in return for the largest military base in Europe.
So really, if you were Serb, whom would you turn to? Depleted Uranium or Uncle Putin ?
by vladimir on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 01:39:05 PM EST
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Besides, the Russian economy is booming (thanks to Putin) having gone from 200 BE/yr when he rook over to 1 200 BE/yr today. Russians are stuffed with cash, they're drenched in hydro-carbons and they have some fantastic military gadgets to offer. And... they're Orthodox, which makes them cool to Serbs.
What's wrong with a Serbia-Russia union? Anyone who thinks that Slavs should "naturally" turn to the EU has been reading too much of the IHT (or Le Monde for that matter - c'est encore pire).
by vladimir on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 02:37:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair enough. So there is no "third way" and Uncle Putin is the preferred option.

I doubt that a union with Russia will work very well in the long term, but it's certainly up to the Serbs to decide in which direction they want to go. The Kosovo might be the price to pay, then.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 02:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why Hast Thou Doubt ? Really.
by vladimir on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 03:06:16 PM EST
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Well, I can't think of an example where a small country surrounded by an alliance of states had a working union with a far bigger (geographically separated) country except for colonial relations. Even if you can think of one, it just doesn't seem wise to be (more or less) isolated from one's neighbors and I don't think Russia holds more of a promise for Serbia than the EU politically, economically or regarding rebuilding and long- term peace. I don't say it couldn't work, but I doubt it would be the better choice.

On the other hand, I can understand why Serbs don't trust the EU anymore. The Kosovo war was fought mostly to redefine NATO as an offensive alliance IMHO, and it's sad that people still suffer from that shortsighted action.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Mon Dec 10th, 2007 at 08:25:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless you're suggesting that being surrounded by the EU would be tantamount to a hostile siege, I don't see why geographic distance should rule out politico-economic alliances. Examples of successful alliances between distant states are numerous: South Korea-US, Hong-Kong-UK, Cuba-USSR (although that one fizzled under an American siege)... which brings us back to the question of whether the EU would effectively organise a siege? And your remark about peace isn't encouraging.

Turambar 08:25: I don't think Russia holds more of a promise for Serbia than the EU politically, economically or regarding rebuilding and long- term peace.

by vladimir on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 02:48:19 AM EST
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It's not about hostility. My remark about peace was meant to highlight an important advantage of EU membership: by participating in a permanent organizational framework, countries in the EU are able to settle differences and conflicts of interest diplomatically before they can lead to a crisis. Therefore, it's almost unthinkable that two EU member states could go to war with each other even under very difficult circumstances that might arise sometime in the future. It's all about building trust, furthering (and building) common interests.

However, EU member states are not allowed to participate in any free trade- or open border- agreements with countries that are not part of the EU, EFTA, CEFTA, oversea territories or candidate countries on their own, so that's what I meant by isolation (CEFTA will end when all other states in the region join the EU). In this age, it hurts small states economically not to be part of a trade bloc. That's why they're everywhere. World map of blocs

Considering the examples you cited, Hong Kong- UK was essentially a colonial relationship. As for South Korea and Cuba, I don't think their special relationships worked out well for these countries in the long term except for providing military security in the Cold War era. But it is over, isn't it?

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Tue Dec 11th, 2007 at 07:41:39 AM EST
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