Since the last May 1st, 2004 expansion, everyone in the EU is still asking himself about the European borders. Everybody is giving his/her opinion in this regard. However, so far nobody has questioned the European membership of the Balkan states or the European Southeast as we’d rather call it. The European countries’ action in the Balkans has always been a great one. But every time Europe has shown indifference towards those states, the result has been disastrous. There are unbreakable ties between Europe and the Balkans. Since Europe understood the importance of its role in that region, things have improved substantially. Who can rationally doubt today the effectiveness of the European action in the general and probably definitive pacification of the Balkans? All those countries feel deeply committed to Europe for that and have given priority, above all else, to their joining the EU in a certain period of time.
However, since the French and Dutch refusal of the European Constitution Treaty (ECT), an atmosphere of uncertainty has risen around the EU expansion. Hinting, or even inferring that the French said deliberately “no” to this expansion, is not only simplistic but also it would be like saying that the French have lost their sense of a great nation of pro-European ideas and actions. Telling the Balkan states today that Europe wants to take a long time to think about its future is like politely telling them that they are not wanted, thus breaking the mechanism of the reform in the Balkans.
History has always recognized big nations as more responsible for themselves and for the rest. Each time that the United States, as its administrations change, shows signs of international unconcern, Europe becomes alarmed for it.
What can be said then of France and its role in the European context? Is it now that it’s richer that Europe has become scared? Is it now that it has become stronger that Europe starts to be afraid? Is it now that it’s larger that Europe draws back in itself? Is it now that it has undergone several tests that Europe starts to doubt its future?
Since 1999, the speech on the Balkan states entrance in the EU has been clear and coherent. Jacques Chirac, who organized the first European Union-Balkans summit in Zagreb in 2000, recalled that the Balkan states had their place in the European family. Nobody would ever understand that this compromise were questioned. That promise, renewed and solemnly strengthened at the Thessalonica summit in 2003, is the umbilical cord that cannot be broken. One can’t simply renounce it.

Libération (France)
Libération followed a long path since its creation by philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre to its acquisition by financier Edouard de Rothschild. Circulation: 150,000 copies.

"Europe, le blues des Balkans", by Ferit Hoxha, Libération, June 20, 2005.