06 April 2011

Brussels vs Moscow

The EU created the legal framework needed to slap sanctions on Bosnian-Herzegovian politicians of its choice that Ashton was going on about way back in January. You have to love a EU documet which states measures should be imposed against "natural and legal persons whose activities undermine the sovereignty, territorial integrity, constitutional order and international personality of Bosnia and Herzegovina".

The EU which occupies Bosnia and Herzegovina, holds it in a quasi-colonial status and which just threw its full weight behind the High Representative's legalisation of a Federation government that failed to secure one third Croat support demanded by the Constitution is making it know it is getting ready to crack down on persons who undermine the sovereignty, constitutional order and international personality of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a level of double-speak that would have Stalin blush.

This step is a theatrical move conceived in the heads of frustrated and unimaginative Brussels apparatchiks that will not have any effect on the ground. Brussels is already able to impose far more potent punitive measures indirectly via the High Representative in Sarajevo. However it serves to illustrate the marks of EU's involvement in the Balkans - hunger for control, reliance on threats and a penchant for blacklisting.

Undoubtedly some of that stems from the characteristic contempt of bureaucrats for anyone unlucky enough to be in the range of their clutches. But aside from that what we are seeing is also the result of a cultural disposition. It is an inescapable fact that we are seeing a Western institution adopt a domineering and disdainful tone in relation to the functionaries of a Balkan state. Does anyone believe the EU could get away with this sort of posture if we were talking about Norway rather than Bosnia?

Meanwhile Russian ambassador Bocan-Harchenko has stated and restated Russia's disagreement with the recent interference of the High Representative and added that the crisis should have been left to local institutions. He has once again said Russia supports the wrapping up of the supervisory regime of the Peace Implementation Council. No threats, no sanctions, no promises of blacklists. Here is a country that actually understands the meaning of sovereignty, constitutional order and independence.

At the end of the day it is illusory to expect Russia will be spending a great deal of its resources to try to accomplish the disengagement of the PIC. It is better off pursuing foreign policy goals closer to home, which are more easily attainable and may benefit it directly rather than pointlessly locking swords over Bosnia. Still it is always good to see there are non-hypocritical actors out there on the international arena. Then again Russia always was better on the Balkans than Western Europe.

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