With Ukraine and Moldova moving forward, will the Western Balkan political elites ever develop similar political will?

DPC is sharing threads posted on Twitter/X for readers not on that platform.

1/ Yesterday’s EU Council decision to accept the recommendation that accession negotiations begin with #Ukraine and #Moldova, as well as to make #Georgia a candidate, is welcome.

2/ Kyiv and Chisinau have done the heavy lifting to proceed – and if their committment and reform momentum is sustained, to call the EU member states on their bluff in terms of their enlargement perspective.

3/ This poses a stark contrast with the #WesternBalkans, where leaders generally have been acculturated though a decade and a half of complacent policy to presume they can proceed without substantial and meaningful transformation. Political will is the differential.

4/ As we noted at the time, granting #Bosnia & Herzegovina candidacy was a mistake – not because the country’s citizens should be denied hope of membership,…

5/ …but rather because the country’s political class evinces no will to actually pursue the clear standards.

6/ #Kosovo, of course, is denied even the opportunity to demonstrate its leaders’ will, given five EU non-recognizing states, and the EU’s unwillingness to actively pursue the entire point of the „dialogue“ – Serbian recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

7/ So a symbiosis of intellectual dishonesty prevails when it comes to EU #enlargement with the #WB6.

8/ The governments in the main expect to be promoted, praised and paid without doing the work – implementing the required reforms and making the case to their citizens for why this is needed for democratic progress.

9/ Meanwhile the EU institutions – especially the Commission and delegations on the ground – have engaged in a contortionism to grossly accentuate (or fabricate) the positive, so they appear to be successful, or at least not failing outright.

10/ Ukraine & Moldova’s leaders continue to pursue a vision of an idealized EU –a community of values. This is what the EU should be, but has not demonstrated that it actually is, as the Copenhagen Criteria are often trumped by realpolitik & transactionalism.

11/ Western Balkan leaders, however, recognize – as does Viktor Orbán – that the EU can be manipulated and even re-shaped precisely because it has become habituated to compromising its own values and standards, in spite of being clearly stated in the EU Treaty.

12/ To realize the promise of a Europe whole, free and at peace, a recommitment to liberal democratic values is essential. Prosperity may then follow on this requisite foundation. Many get the sequencing wrong, thinking they can buy the values so critically needed for success.

13/ At present, there seems more belief in these ideals on the periphery than in the EU’s foundational core or by the political elites in the WB neighborhood. Key questions are – will the constituency for these ideals emerge stronger after the EP elections?

14/ And will these constituencies become more assertive in the #WB6? Sunday’s elections in #Serbia will provide another indicator.