Serbia can become an EU candidate member country in December of this year. That depends on France , which is presiding the EU up to then. That is what we hear from the future government. How will this be accomplished? First we need to submit a request, and before that we should ratify the Stabilization and Association Agreement. We should also meet the demands of the Hague Tribunal. Let’s say that this is all done tomorrow or before the summer holidays. What will ensue? The European Council will launch the procedure and assign the Commission with the mandate to consider the Serbian request. The commission then scans the situation by sending a thorough questionnaire about practically all aspects of institutional structure of Serbia. After the questions are answered, the Commission must study the answers and possibly ask for further explanations. Only after that does it form its opinion of the Serbian request and refers it to the Council. Can all this be done till December? Everything can be done. It could not be accomplished in the period from 2001 till today, but now we are ready – that is what the future government is saying – to do it practically overnight. If only France would agree, of course.
The same goes for abolishing visas for entering the EU countries. We expect it to be solved till December, it is being announced. As far as we are concerned, the Serbian government, that is, we are completely ready. Sure, there are minor problems such as the new passports. It should have been solved a few months ago, then it should be solved now, then it will be done in a few months. It is also true that they have been talking about this for almost eight years now, but now it can be done as soon as tomorrow. Everything is possible.
The suggestions to simply introduce the euro also fit this equation. Here the logic by which everything is possible is supported by a very common method of deduction in Serbia – by analogy. If Montenegro could do it (and Kosovo, too, it should be added), why couldn’t Serbia do it? Really, why not?
I am not saying that comparisons are out of place. On the contrary. Take Croatia , for example. Their central bank would be ready to give up the kuna and introduce the euro tomorrow, if possible. They have been suggesting it to the European Central Bank. They proposed to do it unilaterally. For, unlike abolishing visas or joining the EU, the country that wants to can really unilaterally shift to euro (or the dollar, or the pound, or the Swiss franc, or the ruble, or whatever else it wishes). The problem is that the European Central Bank does not advise it, not because it does not want to widen the euro zone, but on the contrary, because that is exactly what it wants. Because if a country wants to join the European Union, it must be ready to shift to euro (the exception was made only in the case of Great Britain ). The only thing is, just like the association, the European Central Bank has an established procedure of shifting to euro. Because of that it did not encourage Croatia , for instance, to use euro as its currency. Moreover, it repeatedly raises objections to Montenegro because it is clear that it cannot follow the usual procedure, because it jumped the queue, to put it in those terms. A country can introduce the euro as its official currency unilaterally, but this is not expected from a country which intends to become an EU member state. (I will not go into details of the procedure and I will leave aside the question of whether it is advisable from a standpoint of economic policy to shift to the euro unilaterally at this time.)
Can Serbia, as the EU Integration Office claims, be ready to become a member by the end of the new government’s term, as soon as 2012? Everything can be done. The unratified and non-implementable Stabilization and Association Agreement should be carried out in six years. This is a minimal condition for Serbia to be able to become a member at all. And the legal system is still left to be harmonized with the one in the EU. The negotiations cannot be started before next year, and it is hard to perceive how they could be finalized in less than four years. Even if the Serbian government and the National Assembly would speed up the process, let’s say to three times as fast as they have been working from 2001 to this day. Therefore, can Serbia join the EU by 2012? Everything is possible.
Everything is still viewed the same as before. The roads and railroads are not being built, but the new minister will build everything on the wish list if they would just authorize him for everything. This is being promised now when the contract for building the famous highway from Horgos to Pozega is being terminated. We should also mention the fast track railroads, which were one of Slobodan Milosevic’s promises that he made almost twenty years ago. Now his associates are going to make this happen with great speed. If they have complete freedom, everything becomes possible.
Can a technocrat be a prime minister? To the uninformed, this might seem like a badly posed question. Namely, the problem in Serbia is the politicization of jobs that should be left to the technocratic, meritocratic institutions (the central bank, public companies, public agencies, the administration as a whole), and not the politicized position of the prime minister. Serbia has a system of parliamentary democracy, whereby the positions of power are reached by climbing the party ladder. This is not an aberration; this is the way parliamentary democracies work. For the prime minister to be efficient, he must have appropriate political power. This is achieved through gaining support in elections – not just parliamentary, but party elections as well. Knowledge is not a substitute for political authority in that position. For it is important to know what is wanted, which political goals are desired, and not just how to accomplish them. In addition, even when you know how to accomplish the desired goals, you need to have enough political power to do what is necessary for the implementation of a certain policy. Otherwise, what is the use of parties and elections? Can all this be accomplished by a technocrat? The state president believes that this is what it should be like and that it is possible. Of course, everything is possible.
Usually, when a technocrat or a non-party person is appointed to an important ministerial position, for instance, in the Ministry of Finance, this means that someone with real political power wants the job, that is, the prime minister, or, if he is a technocrat as well, the state president. In a presidential system, which the Serbian system is not, for example, in America , the secretaries or the members of the administration, which is something like a government, are non-political persons. Because they work for the president. In parliamentary democracies, this is not in keeping with the nature of the system, it is not democratic, to put it simply. Can an efficient and democratic government be organized all the same in the Serbian parliamentary democracy? Yes, it can. Why not?
Other fields also offer examples, especially regarding institutions which deal with the rule of law. The interpretative powers are so well developed; it is as if the rule that everything is possible is applied literally. The best example is the famous “Legal analysis” of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, which was supposed to be the basis of the governing coalition, which, fortunately, was not formed. Can an interstate agreement, signed by the contracting parties, be declared invalid, it was asked. Of course it can. By declaring it non-existent, for instance. The agreement actually does not exist. Can this decision be made by one of the contracting parties? Of course, why not?
I did not choose the worst examples here, just the ones that are a bit comical. I reckon that there is no need for me to mention the famous examples like the one that a “humane relocation” of entire ethnic groups is possible. The principle that everything is possible is still followed in Serbian politics. Therefore, it makes no sense, and it is unambitious in a way, to do what is necessary.