Driving from Tuzla in BiH to Bijeljinja in Republika Srpska, for example, brings you to what is almost a tidemark of wrecked homesteads and minefields. Gradually signs of rural activity, farmers working their horse in the fields, crops being delivered to merchants, villagers going about their business, peter out and the land falls silent but for the sparse traffic on the road, interspersed with the odd military patrol. On the hillsides are dotted the shells of houses that were one the deliberate target of the ethnic cleansers. And everywhere is the yellow tape denoting the minefields sown so liberally all over Bosnia without proper mapping, cordoning off land that will not be safe to walk on for perhaps another hundred years until the deminers have finally finished their work.
And, whatever progress has been made, war-ravaged is still an apt description of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Not just physically but also politically, for its body politic is still fragmented on ethnic lines between predominantly Muslim Bosnia, Croat Herzegovina and Serbian Republika Srpska. If Belgium is an increasingly difficult concept in which to believe, the notion of a united Bosnia-Herzegovina that will last any great length of time is almost impossible to credit.
Yet such is the ambition of the European Union to extend its suzerainty over all of Europe and beyond that it has just signed Bosnia up to its Stability and Association Agreement, which is the start of the long process of preparing the way for Bosnia-Herzegovina to become a member of the Union and thus the recipient of all the largesse that that implies.
Nothing could better demonstrate the essentially Socialist construct of the EU. Instead of being forced to make its way back to rude good health by dint of hard work, good governance and the exigencies of free trade and the free market, Bosnia-Herzegovina will be added like a foundling to the sow’s litter where it will drink the milk of the four or five net contributors to the EU’s coffers and become, much like the denizens of any sink estate in England, a perpetual handout junky. Huge sums will be poured into ‘reconstruction projects’, better known as the offshore accounts of various local officials and property developers. Goat farmers will suddenly discover themselves able at last to afford that Mercedes.
And then, of course, there is the unwritten agenda behind this. For this may well be the Plan ‘B’ that gets Turkey into the EU in due course if France has her way and prevents it getting in at the first go. For, the argument will go, we already have a huge Muslim population in the EU (not just in the developed countries of the West as immigrants but also in Albania, Kosovo and Bosnia where Muslims overwhelmingly predominate) so the Muslim nature of Turkey entering an essentially Christian club has no rational basis. Turkey will thus slide in via the back door.
Then, without your say-so or mine, we shall have acquired several large holes on the south-eastern flank of the Union into which endless sums of our hard-earned money will be joyfully poured by happy EuroNabobs, delighted at last to have some nice new clients who also have lots of votes to play with. Votes that those same EuroNabobs will expect to be cast for ever and a day in favour of their preferred projects; whereupon the ‘Haves’ will find themselves roundly outvoted at every turn by the ‘Have-Nots’ and in due course with the effluxion of time they will themselves become ‘Have-Nots’, for that is how Socialism works.
The only slight problem with all this is that a nation forged from three ethnic entities out of war, ethnic cleansing and mutual hatred hardly has a great life expectancy. If essentially decent folk of different ethnicity in Belgium cannot hold it together, what hope is there for Bosnia-Herzegovina, the bastard child of the former Yugoslavia?