For their part, Marusic and Haddad are resolutely optimistic about the importance of the project, writing: terrain: local leaders are taking their destiny into their own hands and getting creative. “
The problem with this account, however, is that it is not supported by the facts of what is happening – as the authors say – on the ground.
As Marusic and Haddad themselves admit, the fact that only three of the “Western Balkan Six” joined the plan is significant. But the absence of Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro is not, as the authors argue, because “the three holdouts remain skeptical, arguing that the new initiative duplicates the development of a market. regional joint which was agreed by the six in Sofia, Bulgaria, last year as part of the Berlin process ”.
On the one hand, the EU-backed Berlin Process regional cooperation initiative for the Balkans, like the EU enlargement project, is dying. It is nothing more than a format for discussion at this point, and in the seven years since the inaugural Berlin Process summit, it has produced few political consequences. Indeed, the fact that a common regional market has already been agreed, and that it is now supplanted by this trilateral initiative, shows how insignificant the Berlin process has become.
The reason why Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro have not joined the idea of an open Balkans is not because they continue to hope for a common regional market initiated by the EU. They did not sign for the same reason that the Common Regional Market has not become anything but another in a long line of international “concepts” for the region (reminder, “local ownership”, “connectivity”, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogues project, etc.).
The problem remains Serbia and its machinations towards most of the region – machinations that have nothing to do with political and economic cooperation, and everything to do with the vengeful and hegemonic fantasies of Belgrade’s ruling elite.
Aleksander Vulin, Serbian Interior Minister and close confidant of President Aleksandar Vucic, has promoted the idea that Serbia seeks the formal political and institutional unification of all ethnic Serbs in the Western Balkans. That is to say a Greater Serbia, with Belgrade for its capital and Vucic for its undisputed leader. He called it the “Serbian world”.
Vulin openly defended the idea of the “Serbian world” at political rallies and on national television, and he used the concept as a club to wield against neighboring governments, especially in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. .
Unsurprisingly, these three countries contain most of the populations and territories that Vulin and Vucic say will eventually be incorporated into the new Serbian mega-state.