Leading article: The grandstanding the Balkans doesn't need
Friday 30 July 1999
It is tempting to think that inclusiveness is essential for any package to work. In that respect, it would seem essential that Serbia should be brought into the game, and for an economic helping hand to be offered to Belgrade. The continued isolation of Serbia can, however, play a useful role. Slobodan Milosevic and Balkan stability are mutually irreconcilable concepts. So far, the opposition demonstrations across Serbia in recent weeks have left Mr Milosevic's grip on power almost undiminished. Many in Belgrade are convinced that it is only Serbia's dire economic straits that will put the Yugoslav president under the ultimate pressure. If or when Mr Milosevic is forced out, that will be a prize worth waiting for.
The Sarajevo summit can be seen as mere gesture politics. In the words of one headline from the region, this is merely "Western aspirin for the Balkan cancer". Vague phrases such as launching a stability pact is just soundbite diplomacy. None the less, even the attempt to address the problems should be welcomed. Stability is partly a question of money, but it also depends on a sense that the rest of the world will continue to take an interest in the longer term.
In 1991, at the beginning of the Balkan wars, Jacques Poos, speaking for the European Union, famously declared this to be "the hour of Europe". This pronouncement was followed by a complete European abdication of responsibility. In 1992, a London conference on Yugoslavia congratulated itself on bringing Mr Milosevic and the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, to heel - even as the Bosnian war moved into its most brutal top gear.
Such grandstanding is just what the Balkans do not need. If, however, there is a commitment to link the region to the rest of Europe in the years to come, that small step would be important. And one day, a Milosevic- free Serbia will be able to rejoin the Balkan family. It cannot happen too soon.
filmIn Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' close to camp
Star Wars The Force Awakens trailer: What we know about JJ Abrams' film
Exodus Gods and Kings casting controversy: Ridley Scott would never cast 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
David Cameron sets out immigration reforms: We should distrust Ukip and their 'snake-oil of simple solutions'