Gjergji Thanasi: EU Viewing Mini-Schengen as Milk Bottle for Balkan “Babies”
TEHRAN (FNA)- Gjergji Thanasi, investigative journalist, says Brussels looks on Mini-Schengen as an effective means to further prolong the process of Balkan countries joining the European Union.
Speaking in an interview with FNA, Thanasi said the accord helps the EU keep the Balkans away from Russia, China, Turkey and Persian Gulf countries “who otherwise can interrupt EU slumber”.
“Mini-Schengen seems quite similar to a ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Free travel already exists throughout the Balkans… Economically, Mini-Schengen can cause more harm than good to Albanian economy as if trade/customs and regulation barriers are abolished regarding the circulation of goods,” he added.
Gjergji Thanasi is an Albanian author, journalist and human rights activist.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: How do people in the Balkans benefit from the border free travel and business zone of Mini-Schengen?
A: Mini-Schengen seems quite similar to a “Much Ado About Nothing.” Free travel already exists throughout the Balkans. The citizens of these countries need no visa to enter and stay in the Mini-Schengen countries area for 90 consecutive days. Only identity cards are good enough to enter and stay in some countries such as the Republic of Kosova and Albania, Serbia and Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro, or even Serbia and Montenegro, so scanty incentive is added to the total usage of ID in the whole area, according to the envisaged agreement.
Economically, Mini-Schengen can cause more harm than good to Albanian economy as if trade/customs and regulation barriers are abolished regarding the circulation of goods (Mini-Schengen project), then my country will serve simply as a market for finished products of the Serb industry (food industry products included) hurting local industry and unfairly competing with foreign goods originating from non-EU member countries. We Albanians should sign agreements with Ljubljana, Zagreb and Podgorica to make fool-proof that Serbia remains a land locked country, instead of joining such harmful and half-baked Mini-Schengen projects.
Q: Could the Balkan region wait longer to join the EU? What about the reform demands of the EU for the Balkans; how realistic are they?
A: This Balkans waiting for EU to unify the peninsula already reminds me of the play “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. It is quite frustrating to keep waiting even 30 years after the fall of communism, as “Est modus in rebus” even in the matters of patience. Theoretically, the reforms demanded by EU are realistic and to the point, yet they should be tailored to the needs of every specific country in the Balkans. One country might need more reforms in his judiciary, another in his infrastructure, and another one in his agriculture. The Eurocrats in Brussels being too lazy minded generally are offering standard size reforms, which even if properly applied, might not produce the expected results, let alone if wrongly applied.
Q: What does Mini-Schengen accord mean for the EU?
A: Due to populist forces pressure, the EU is not willing or able to face another enlargement after that of the Balkan countries: Rumania and Bulgaria (2007). To keep alive the hope of EU membership to the other Balkan countries, the EU is imitating the Romans who for a couple of centuries granted the status of “Socci” but not full citizenship to the Italic Peoples conquered by Rome.
To keep at bay competition from Russia as the ex-Communist overlord of parts of the Balkans, from Turkey as the heir of Ottoman Empire, from China as a rising superpower, but to lure investments of petro-Dollars from the Persian Gulf Countries (they are perceived as milk cows) Brussels imagines that the Mini-Schengen accord can serve as a milk bottle for the Balkan “babies”, who otherwise can interrupt EU slumber.