Trick with “non-paper” successful, the earnings go outside the Balkans and outside the EU
When the first storm after the “non-paper” on the future appearance of the Balkans subsides, and it is still in progress, what is left behind it will be quite contaminated. Regardless of the fact that it is a meaningless, unattainable, worthless text, the content of which, and especially the authorship, is not accepted by anyone. That is why there will be no talk here about its content, or about possible authors. Neither the content nor the authorship of this text, are its important features, unfortunately for all media, politicians and analysts who have been dealing with it for days, and will continue to do so. Its most important (destructive) power is neither in the text, nor in the possible discovery of the author, its power is beyond itself. It is huge and is reflected in the damage it left behind. Just as fake, but many times “shared” news becomes a topic that is talked about and provokes someone’s actions. When it causes consequences, no one remembers anymore, nor does anyone care what was written in the original fake news.
Phantom “non-paper” is therefore a typical post-truth product. It does not bring information, or any fact, but its role is to provoke a certain perception, which will then turn into action. From the day it was launched on the Slovenian portal “Uncensored”, it produces an effect, and it is harmful, and the contamination will be long-term.
The essence of this text is in opening the most painful, most complicated and the riskiest issue for the stability of the Balkans, and those are the state borders linked to ethnicity. “Non paper” opened that Pandora’s box and in the most brutal way turned all other topics on the sidelines. That is the greatest damage it has done and will continue to do so. There is no doubt that this orphan paper will be one of the main topics at the meeting of European Union foreign ministers on the Balkans, which has been postponed from April 19 to May 10. Regardless of the fact that everyone important in the EU has already rejected this text and that everyone in the Balkans has spoken negatively about it, it will be the topic of this long-awaited meeting in Brussels, where the EU should speak at a high level about strategic moves towards its Balkan partners.
So, the “non-paper” will steal a part of more than precious European time dedicated to the Balkans, and even if it stays like that (and it will not), it will fulfill its purpose. It will not allow the EU to focus 100% on the future of the Balkans. Because of this text, some of the vital topics will remain unopened and will wait for some next, distant, opportunity. During that time, everyone in the Balkans will continue to “chew on” its details – where which border will go, whether Greater Albania will share border with Greater Serbia, and Greater Serbia with Greater Croatia, whether Livno and Lištica will belong to Croatia or B&H, and to whom will Boka belong. Is there a better and longer lasting party for the idle in the Balkans than a game like this? And a better way to give up solving real problems – eradicating the Coronavirus, raising the economy, employment and, of course, meeting the criteria for EU membership? This game of diverting attention from important to unimportant things, while at the same time maximum strengthening of the already existing points of division and conflict in one community, is not new. It has already been seen many times and its goal is very clear – to make one community (state, region) dysfunctional, to divert it from the direction of progress and to leave it preoccupied with internal conflicts that destroy it.
Trump, Macron, Brexit and then the Balkans
That is the essence of the cyber operation that Russia undertook against America before Donald Trump came to power. Over a million fake accounts on social networks broadcasted messages that touched on all existing divisions in American society and strengthened them – interracial relations, carrying weapons, globalization, migrants. The same action was taken from the same address in France, on the eve of the presidential elections in 2017, when internal divisions regarding migrants and relations with the EU, for example, intensified. The same recipe was applied in Britain before the referendum on leaving/remaining in the EU, but also in many EU member states. The goal of these operations was not for Trump to come to power, or for Macron not to come, or for Britain to leave the EU. The goal was (and it was achieved) to make these countries internally divided and preoccupied with themselves, to reduce their influence on the rest of the world in the long run.
Russia does not have to be the author of the Balkan “non-paper” at all, nor does it matter. But it will benefit the most from its destructive effect. With this paper, an identical operation was carried out, which has been going on for years towards the western countries and the European Union, as a whole. This time, not through social networks, and not so much sophisticatedly and in the long run, but through only one obscure document published in a single regional media. I guess appropriate for the Balkans – sharply, directly and brutally, for everyone to see.
Its effect is already devastating for the Balkans, primarily in the fact that the more or less pronounced focus of all Balkan countries on joining the European Union was lost overnight. It is precisely Russia’s interest to prolong this process as much as possible, preferably permanently, and to keep its political, economic and security influence in the region strong, if possible, even stronger, during all that time. By marking Slovenia as a potential author of this paper, the seeds of discord are introduced into the EU itself, especially if we keep in mind that Slovenia will take over the presidency of the European Union on July 1. What kind of chairman is the one who advocates the territorial disintegration of the Balkans and the return of the entire continent to the flammable 90s – a question that will have to be answered in Ljubljana for a long time to come. Probably unjustly accused.
Burying the division of Kosovo
As a side effect, but equally successful, the “non-paper” made a reasonable initiative probably definitely buried as unacceptable, even though it had the potential to lead to a solution to a complicated Balkan conflict. It is about the concept of territorial demarcation between Serbia and Kosovo (division or exchange of territories, all the same), which has not had many chances for success so far, but still showed signs of life. Its chance was that it would be the result of a compromise between Serbs and Albanians, an agreement from which neither side would emerge triumphantly, but not with tarnished reputation also. Its chance was that it would permanently establish peace and cooperation between the two people, without unsolved issues that would burden their relations. Russia is not the only one that opposed such an epilogue of the Serbian-Albanian conflict, but it is the only one it suits that the Kosovo problem remains unresolved. As long as that hotspot exists, Russia has its “shares” in Balkan politics and economy, and that is why the status quo on the Kosovo issue is an ideal option for Moscow’s interests. Transferred to the entire Balkans, its interest is the same – the status quo, which means economically and security-weak, quarreling small states, far from full democracy and EU membership.
As cheap as it is (both literally and figuratively), this trick has succeeded so far, regardless of who performed it. Neither the Balkans, nor any of its countries individually, nor the European Union, nor any of its members individually, will earn from it. Earnings go both outside the Balkans and outside the EU.