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Greek crisis diminishes EU influence in Balkans 29 mars 2012

Posted by Acturca in Economy / Economie, EU / UE, South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie.
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Deutsche Welle (Germany) 29 March 2012

Anila Shuka, Interview

The EU will see its sway wane in the Balkans as the Greek crisis persists, says an expert. Turkey looks likely to gain in influence, James Pettifer a Balkans expert from Oxford University told DW.

James Pettifer is a history professor at Oxford University and expert on the Balkans. His newest book, « The Kosovar Liberation Army. Underground War to Balkan Insurgency, 1948-2001, » is set for publication in July.

He spoke to DW about the roots of the Kosovar Liberation Army and the current state of political affairs in the Balkans.

DW: What was the political role of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in the post-war Kosovo?

James Pettifer: Well, I think after 1999 and 2000 the winning side was not allowed to win. It was clear the Albanian side had won, but the internationals were trying to reverse the process. So a lot of people that are not automatically great supporters of PDK, they still voted for PDK because they are afraid of the security of Kosovo. I think it’s quite understandable why they think that. They don’t trust people who have not been involved in the war.

What roles are Tirana and Belgrade currently playing in the Kosovo issue?

Tirana would like, in many ways, to forget about Kosovo because they think their chances of getting into the EU are hindered by the Kosovo problem. But, they can’t really do it. The trade links are producing a much more economically united entity and that’s why the unification process is happening naturally. And, whether Serbia likes it or not, they can’t stop that.

What kind of impact can those developments have for the Albanians in Macedonia?

I think the effect of the new road between Tirana and Prizren, is quite important because now few people go to Macedonia. You hear people complaining in Tetovo particularly that the business is not good because a lot of people, trade now along the new road. And the influence of Turkey is very substantial in Macedonia. Without Turkey, Skopje’s government will not survive. Turkey is very important to Macedonia economically and diplomatically, against Greece, and there are a lot of people with Turkish links, particularly in Gostivar and in Struga.

What does this mean for Macedonia ?

The Turkish link is encouraging a certain conservatism and encourages more religion and a more eastern culture. The influence of Turkey is very substantial in Macedonia. Without Turkey, Skopje’s government will not survive. Turkey is very important to Macedonia economically and diplomatically, against Greece, and there are a lot of people with Turkish links, particularly in Gostivar and in Struga. Turkey’s influence may grow now because Turkey is a very successful country, it has a lot of money and it has a Balkan policy; some of Mr. Erdogan’s family come from the Balkans. The cultural influence of Greece as a force for modernity and as a force for Europe is going to be reduced and the money coming from Greece will be much less. The great advantage of Turkey is that they have cheap food exports, which it is very valuable to Macedonia and a lot of the trade is on the hand of the Albanian business.

Do you think that this would bring up again a question of reshaping the Balkans?

We are going to see the effects of the Greek crises in the next three to five years and they will make it much more difficult for the EU to influence because the traditional way the EU influence things in Skopje, in Albania and so on, was through Greece, particularly in Albania, and I think that now gets much more difficult.

Interview: Anila Shuka
Editor: Sean Sinico

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