Western Balkans Conference in Poznan
STP demands credible membership perspectives, more commitment for minority rights, and tangible measures to criminalize genocide denial (Press Release)
On the occasion of the Western Balkans Conference – which will take place in Pozna?, Poland, as of tomorrow – the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticizes the approach of the EU and the German Federal Government. "The challenges in the Western Balkans are enormous," stated Jasna Causevic, the STP's Expert on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to protect, in Göttingen. "However, if these problems are addressed adequately, the region could turn out to be a blessing for the EU." In order to strengthen the rule of law and minority rights, and also to fight corruption and genocide denial, the EU and Germany would have to take tangible measures in this direction.
Thus, the STP appealed to the participants of the conference to provide credible membership perspectives – which would have to involve demands for high human rights standards and, if necessary, according support. "An independent judiciary and a well-trained police force are prerequisites for measures to strengthen the rule of law," Causevic stated, emphasizing the importance of fighting corruption effectively. In order to heal the wounds of the past and to defuse ethnic tensions, genocidal denial must be criminalized: "It is a scandal that government representatives of the Bosnian Serbs can deny the genocide crimes of Srerebrenica and treat Serbian war criminals as heroes. The EU and the Federal Government have not yet found an adequate answer to the dictatorship in the Republika Srpska in divided Bosnia, to the ban on public meetings, and to the unsolved murders of human rights activists," Causevic warned.
At the same time, the EU and Germany are underestimating the enormous economic potential of the region: well-educated young people and a large sales market are quite attractive for the EU. Credible membership perspectives could help to reduce the number of skilled workers who decide to leave the Western Balkans, to stop the ongoing "brain drain" and, thus, lead to an economic recovery in their home countries. More than 100,000 people have already emigrated from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU-member Croatia. As a result, there is already a lack of specialists and nursing staff, craftspersons, and service providers. "An EU-enlargement could help both sides. At the same time, the EU could export human rights standards and good governance – thus living up to the European values," stated the STP's expert.
At the end of May, although the European Commission had confirmed that the necessary measures had been taken, the General Affairs Council decided not to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. From the viewpoint of the STP, this is incomprehensible – which is why the human rights organization appeals to the EU and the German Federal Government to use the summit in Pozna? Summit to advocate for a timely accession.