From 1 to 4 December 2019 I was on a promotional tour in Serbia for the Serbian edition of my book „Was wird aus der Europäischen Union? Geschichte und Zukunft„. A total of five newspaper interviews, one radio and one television interview had to be conducted as well as four lecture and discussion events.
The topic of EU accession is clearly a hot topic in Serbia, since the accession process is not coming off the mark. The EU is not particularly interested in accelerating the process, but may underestimate the frustration in the Western Balkans and the risks.
The lecture to Matica Srpska, Novi Sad, on 3 December dealt with the question of the EU future of the Western Balkan countries in a broader context.
Part II is to be found here.
Part III is to be found here.
 “Any European country can apply for membership if it respects the EU’s democratic values and is committed to promoting them.”[i]
This simple sentence, which can be found on the information page of the EU Commission, expresses the EU’s enlargement philosophy.
 For four decades this philosophy was filled with life: The six founding members of the EEC (=European Economic Community), which were the same as those of the ECSC (European Coal and Steel Community) (the Benelux countries, France, Italy, Germany), always claimed to represent the whole of Europe. They identified Europe and the EEC. It was often alluded to the fact that the EEC resembled the Carolingian Empire in spatial terms …
 The consequence of this self-conception of representing the real Europe was openness to the enlargement of the Community, which was actually carried out in several stages. Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom joined in 1973, Greece in 1981 (while Greenland left the EC in 1984), Portugal and Spain in 1986. The unification of the FRG and the GDR also effectively enlarged the EC. Austria, Sweden and Finland joined in 1995. The largest enlargement took place in 2004, Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007 and Croatia in 2013.
 The enlargements of 1981, 1986 and 2004 sealed historical upheavals in the countries concerned that had ended dictatorial regimes. It is noticeable that Greece, Spain and Portugal joined the EC much more quickly after the end of their respective dictatorships than was the case after the upheavals of 1989. Since 2004, the membership dynamics have been faltering, although it would be in the logic of the historical enlargement philosophy to quickly integrate the others, above all the Western Balkan states.
 In 2003, the EU Thessaloniki Summit actually agreed on the next major enlargement to include the successor states of Yugoslavia as well as Albania, but priorities were changed from 2014. The old EU Commission under Jean-Claude Juncker (2014-2019) had formulated a number of priorities for its work, but these did not include EU enlargement. French President Emmanuel Macron in particular is on the brakes. He calls for consolidation and reform of the EU before new members join. I will analyse later whether these arguments make sense or not.
 Nevertheless, Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia as well as Albania and Turkey are currently candidates for accession. Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are possible candidates for accession. I am not talking about Turkey in this speech.
 Joining the EU needs to be carefully considered. Brexit is very instructive in this respect. In 2016 a narrow majority in the United Kingdom voted in favour of Brexit. The difficulty in actually doing the Brexit is perhaps the best way to see what European unity means in practice. We usually refer to this unity as „European integration“. Growing together over years, from the start of the accession process to actual membership, cannot be easily stopped.
 As a result of this insight, the many voices in recent years, especially from the political right and right-wing extremists, in favour of withdrawing from the EU or the EURO, have largely fallen silent.
 We do not know how the United Kingdom will develop after the Brexit, but all the difficulties that already exist underline the following principle: whoever joins the EU should do so in the consciousness and with the will not to leave the EU.
 In the following I would like to work on three theses:
1. The Western Balkans is an integral part of Europe
2 The EU is Europe’s most dynamic force
3. The future of Serbia, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo lies in EU Europe.
Thesis I: The Western Balkans is an integral part of Europe
 In terms of cultural history, the EU goes back to the idea of Europe. The idea of Europe means to think of Europe as a united whole. Traces of this idea can be found in ancient Greece and in the European Middle Ages, but it only became concrete in the course of the 15th century. It was a special historical constellation that led to the explicit idea of European unity. I would like to explain this briefly.
 In the East, the former Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, disappeared with the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. It was not so much the fact that with the Ottoman Empire there was now a new great power, even if one had to fear the consequences, but rather the changed situation for Christianity, which led to a gradual identification of Europe and Christianity. However, Emperor Maximilian I, for example, maintained his universal claim to power, and the imperial court had information about Christian communities in Africa and Asia, such as India. Nevertheless, the view gradually narrowed. The division of Europe into Catholic and Orthodox churches did not prevent the gradual identification of Christianity and Europe.
 In addition, there were the voyages of discovery and trade along the coasts of Africa and, at the end of the century, the discovery of America. All this took a while to become known to contemporaries. But as early as 1494, with the Treaty of Tordesillas, the two then great sea powers Spain and Portugal divided the New World into a Spanish and a Portuguese zone. Since the middle of the 15th century, the question has been asked whether the inhabitants of the islands in the Atlantic – such as the Guanches on the Canary Islands – or the so-called Indians in America were human beings.
 That means you had to adapt your view of the world. There were four continents and not only three as in ancient tradition, there were beings elsewhere in the world who were not mentioned in the Bible, but who were to be regarded as human beings not least because of authoritative answers by the popes. And finally, a Muslim world stretched from the west coast of North Africa to the east to all of Anatolia and the first European regions in southeastern Europe.
 In 1535 a picture was created which shows very clearly the results of the processing of all these changes. It was conceived by Johannes Putsch, a follower of Ferdinand I, the brother of Emperor Charles V.
 The picture illustrates an ideal view of Europe: Europe is a continental body bordered all around by water. A body is the ideal realization of unity. This fundamental concept of unity is linked to the vision of imperial, i.e. Christian, universal rule over the whole of Europe. Moreover, the figure of Queen Europe contains the idea of paradise.
 It is the image of a corpus mysticum politicum. The Catholic Church understood itself as corpus mysticum. Already in the late Middle Ages the monarchies began to transfer this understanding to themselves, a monarchy like the French was a corpus mysticum politicum. In the early 16th century this idea was finally transferred to Europe, Europe was understood as a „Christian republic“. It is easy to see that the „Balkans“, which were only much later called „Balkan countries“, are an unrestricted part of this idea of Europe.
 The formulation res publica christiana can be found in European peace treaties up to the French Revolution. At the end of the 18th century, of course, one no longer thought of a Europe united under the Emperor, but of a network of peace treaties that would ensure balance between the great powers and guarantee the existence of small states.
 The idea of a „Holy Alliance“, which the Russian Tsar Alexander I presented to the Austrian Emperor and the Prussian King at the end of the Congress of Vienna in the autumn of 1815, continued these traditions. And at least on paper almost all small and large powers joined this Holy Alliance!
 With the national movements and the new nation states in the 19th century, the political situation in Europe changed again, but the idea of European unity was adapted accordingly. The nation state, even though its emergence was accompanied by violent conflicts and sometimes wars, was regarded as something modern and forward-looking, and every people – this was of course always a vague concept – was granted the right to political self-determination in its own state. Ultimately, the nation states were regarded as brothers, there was no contradiction between a peaceful Europe and a Europe of nation states.
 In the 19th century, the idea of the „United States of Europe“ was born, which continues to be attractive to this day. The last time it was actively articulated was this year (2019) in the election campaign to the European Parliament.
 After the First World War, the question of the political unity of Europe was intensively and broadly discussed, as was the question after the Second World War. But it was only after 1945 that European institutions such as the Council of Europe were established.
 The historical ideas of European unity have always encompassed the whole of Europe. The picture of 1535 that I showed deliberately ignores the fact that part of south-eastern Europe was already dominated by the Ottoman Empire. These regions nevertheless remained in the body of Europe.
 The national movements of the 19th century also initially strengthened a geographically comprehensive concept of Europe. Of course, there are different views on this. The works of Larry Wolff on the “ Invention of Eastern Europe “ and of Maria Todorova on the “ Invention of the Balkans “ have long set a precedent. In the meantime, however, the results have been viewed more critically. Was something like „Eastern Europe“ really „invented“ in the late 18th century? Was something like „the Balkans“ really invented, i.e. constructed, in the 19th century?
 Of course, it would make no sense to deny that ideas of European subspaces with special characteristics have emerged. But such ideas developed more or less simultaneously in relation to Western Europe, Central Europe, Southern Europe, Scandinavia. For all these spaces, special concepts for a common political and economic structure were developed in phases. This is true again and again for the Balkan region.
 It should not be overlooked that colonial thinking also spread within Europe and this helped to determine the view of supposedly backward regions. Nevertheless, different points of view always overlapped. The Danube Monarchy expanded in the Balkans until the First World War. This may well have been colonial, but at the same time a space emerged that was connected to the general, industrial and technical developments in Europe. The Ottoman Empire was pushed further and further out of Europe, making the historical concept of Europe much more meaningful.
 Especially in the late 18th century and in Europe after the Congress of Vienna, Roman and increasingly Greek antiquity were remembered. This included the Balkans in the concept of Europe, but not excluded them. In the Enlightenment, Europe was regarded as a culture that extended as far as the Urals.
 And as far as Serbia is concerned, I only recall the Serbia essay by the famous historian Leopold von Ranke and the publications by Felix Kanitz. Both embodied Serbia in the culture of Europe.
 Much of what is subsequently used to describe European culture, such as Art Nouveau, „Modernism around 1900“, urbanism, art, music, theatre, opera, interwar architecture, affects the Balkans as much as other regions.
 Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that, culturally speaking, Western Europe, especially France, was regarded as Europe and self-assessment depended on it. So there were asymmetries in the perception of oneself as European, which may still have an effect today.
 The two world wars have strengthened rather than weakened the idea of European unity as a whole. European unity should finally be realised in order to create peace. At first, however, there was less unity than ever before, but that did not change the fact that the idea of European unity was never abandoned, but was constantly renewed and retained its comprehensive character in principle. The same is also true: there is no idea of Europe without the Balkans. And without the idea of Europe there is no EU.
Documentation: The programme of the promotional tour has been organized by Clio publishers (Belgrade). For the round table at the Institute of European Studies, Belgrade, see the institute’s homepage. The round table was organized by the institute’s director dr Miša Đurković.
Reference: Wolfgang Schmale: European Union Future for Western Balkans Countries, in: Mein Europa, Blog: https://wolfgangschmale.eu/european-union-future-for-western-balkans-countries-1