Iskustvo nam je palanačko.
– Radomir Konstantinović
Most contemporary accounts of European integration begin with the aftermath of the Second World War, and the desire for peace in Europe. This important point in the story of modern European integration, however, should be considered in a much longer time-frame. Ideas of European unity were articulated long before the arrival of the twentieth century.
It is absolutely necessary and desirable to examine the key principles and ideas that lay behind the European integration, because they can be introduced to solve the Balkan problem as well. After the devastation caused by the WWII, Europe felt that something had to be done. One of the major steps was the creation of Council of Europe, which still exists today and which pushed us significantly towards full protection of human rights. Fortunately, some people believed that further steps had to be taken and stronger integration achieved. France and West Germany, who, not that long before, fought war against each other, proposed the pooling of their coal and steel resources, under the High Authority of the European Coal and Steel Community; Italy and the three Benelux countries also joined. The ECSC was regarded by its proponents as not merely about coal and steel, but represented a first step towards European integration. What came afterwards furthered the integration process, mostly through European Atomic Energy Community, and finallyEuropean Economic Community. Although the setting of these communities may have been politically motivated, the focus was specifically economic.
Thus, the Member States have decided to bring their scarce potentials and resources together, with the ultimate goal of establishing the common market, to approximate economic policies of the Member states, to increase stability and raise the standard of living.There is one very cool and purely economic theory that explains this integration process very well – the theory of comparative advantage. It basically means that resources(such as capital, workers etc.) should be shifted to places where they are valued the most. As a result, every (member) state and every region will do what it is best at – wine or chocolate production, car production, services etc. What a careful reader can notice right away is that, if we shift the wine production from Germany to France, then Germany becomes dependent on France, because of its wine. And that is where comparative advantage eventually brings us all: countries become so dependent on each other,that none of them is willing to launch (another) war against each other – the mutual dependencythat was envisaged by Schumann and Monnet, the founding fathers of the EU, back in the ‘50s.
We can see that EU case bears a clear-cut similarity to the Balkan issues. After devastation and atrocities caused by the conflicts during the ‘90s, somewhat of an “EU-like integration-salvation” plan is needed for the countries of ex-Yugoslavia. Of course, it would by no means resemble the Yugoslavia itself, but it should be leaning towards a certain sustainable system cooperation; regardless of the most recent past, countries of ex-Yugoslavia should neverconsider their future, whilecut off from the other neighboring countries. The incentive for such system is the common goal of all the countries: peace, prosperity, social welfare etc.
I believe a certain incentive has been brought in back in Belgrade. And I am firmly convinced that similar incentives are springing up each day, throughout the Western Balkans. History, our real, unbiased facts and interpretations, importance of which we realized through the lecture of professor Stojanović, should get us back on track.
Also, anotherpowerful weaponof the European integration, that should by no means be disregarded,is the European exchange scheme – ERASMUS. Once, when whole of the region is found reunited again, under the auspices of the EU this time, the exchange scheme will, over the time, provide an outstanding opportunity for the student mobility within the Western Balkans as well. Those exchanges will bring about the change in the mutual understanding and will foster dialogue andcooperation between the peoples of ex-Yugoslavia as well.
EU lesson: countries that fought war can do business together. Region torn apart by ethnic and national tensions is the problem – integration is the solution. Yugoslav one did not succeed. It is to expect and hope that the European one will.