I found this article on a Serbian website B92.net, and in my opinion gives an interesting insight into the Serbian view of Macedonia, their aspirations to join the EU and the retention of Kosovo as sovreign Serbian territory
Tomislav Nikolić has said that Serbia’s obstacle in its desire to join the EU was the fact it was unwilling to give up a part of its territory – Kosovo.Tomislav Nikolić (Photo: Beta)
At the same time, Macedonia was facing another obstacle – the fact that it was refusing to to accept that it should give up on the constitutional name of the country, its coat of arms and flag, the Serbian president told Macedonia’s Sitel TV in an interview.
“I know that Macedonia, as long as it has that name, coat of arms and flag, and as long as it represents a problem for Greece, will not be able to become a member of the European Union… Just as you – it seems to me with just your pride, not your territory in jeopardy – are refusing what’s being imposed on you, so we are refusing to accept our territory to be taken away, which is a much more difficult condition,” he stated..
The president also asserted that he was “openly telling all EU officials” when he met with them that it was impossible that anyone would be born in Serbia in the next 100 years who would accept Kosovo and Metohija as independent.
According to him, “if someone from Europe were to say that this was not the problem for Serbia’s membership, that Serbia should do everything else, while this question would be dealt with at the end”, he would be “unable to behave as if he did not see that he was in fact helping to recognize an independent Kosovo”:
“I cannot say that we will be in the EU quickly, I can say that I hope so, but I will sooner step down than allow an entry into the union without Kosovo. Whoever may seek an ally in me for such a thing, will find a closed door.”
The president’s message to Macedonians was that Serbia “understood the problems of their state”, but also noted that Skopje had recognized a Serbian province as independent:
“We know you as Macedonia, not as the former Yugoslav republic, which is what the world is demanding and what Macedonia had to accept in order to continue to live and fight on. Make sure you meet all demands. I know you will not meet a demand that would degrade Macedonia, and I respect that, but make sure that you occasionally prompt your politicians to respect the position of Serbia that it will not join the EU without Kosovo and Metohija.”
Nikolić went on to state that Macedonia faced a similar problem as Serbia, and that if that country “continues to insist on what belongs to it”, it would find itself “on the bad list”.
He rejected the possibility that former Yugoslav republics would once again gathering in some form of union, stressing that he “could not impose such a possible desire of his to others”, who believe they would make better progress on their own:
“We went our separate way when the time was not right, of course we would have joined the EU in a much more simple and easy manner had we stayed together, these problems would not be there.”
Asked to comment on problems faced by Macedonia due to the “incessant and decades-long demand of Albanians for expansion”, the Serbian president said that Macedonian politicians were “free to stick their heads in the sand”, but that they would face the same problem as Serbia “in 20 years’ time – because time is not working in favor of their state, it is working in favor of the separatists”.
“Once they (Albanians) achieve their rights within the Serbian territory, they will call on those same rights in all other states. How can you say they are entitled to a state in Kosovo, but not in Mecedonia, how can you say they have the right to a state in the territory of Kosovo, but not to autonomy in Greece or Montenegro,” wondered Nikolić.
He added that Serbian politicians “received assurances” that Kosovo would not join Albania – but that this was “a lie”, and said the proof was in the fact that “Kosovo was given an area code, while a highway and railways were being built to connect Priština with Durres”.
“An Albanian state is being forged in the territory of the Balkan peninsula that will for another 30 years not be as well arranged as Macedonia and Serbia, and in the space of those 30 years, all sorts of things will happen,” the Serbian president said.
According to him, he was “the first politician to do something for Macedonians in Serbia that nobody else did”, and explained he asked a party gathering ethnic Macedonians to join the election list of his now ruling SNS, enabling it to have one MP in the new Serbian parliament.
Nikolić’s interview came ahead of his official visit to Skopje, scheduled for October 26, 27, and 28.
It is my opinion therefore that Serbian entry into the European Union is something which is not going to happen any time soon, as the Serbs will want to retain Kosovo as sovreign territory.
In comparison, Macedonia has afforded (perhaps reluctantly) ethnic Albanians living in the country’s north-west, where they comprise over 25% of the population, equal rights and the same civil liberties as have ethnic Macedonians. These requirements were prescribed by the EU as conditions of entry, as the EU believed this area of civil rights needed addressing.
Just how well these changes have been accepted by Macedonian majority is open for debate. It seems to me that while these changes have occurred to enhance their entry into the Union, the psyche of the Macedonian majority has not changed. Ethnic Albanians and their Islamic beliefs are barely tolerated by the average Macedonian on the street.
This reluctance has occurred because Macedonia had been under Turkish (and Islamic) rule for over 500 years, and thus they seem to have little tolerance for the Islamic beliefs of their ethnic Albanian minority.
Then, of course, there is still the ongoing naming dispute with the Greeks to resolve.