Thursday, May 29, 2008
Serbia and Ireland Play At 'Eurovision'
While euro-eyes are all on Ireland and its upcoming vote on the Lisbon Treaty, which is getting too close to call, the 'Eurovision' movement is again getting that regular feeling of rejection that it suffers whenever an election of any kind is held. In Serbia the not-pro-EU coalition has just formed and is now about to govern Belgrade appointing a new Mayor. From this point, it seems highly likely that they will also go on and form a coalition to run the country, although with the EU desperately shovelling money and favours at anyone who wants any, it is clearly paying the negotiators to take their time!
The mood of the nation is well captured by an amusing article which appeared in the B92 Blog two days ago, the blog of the B92 Belgrade TV station. The second half of the piece runs as follows -
In essence, this country is suffering from a superabundance of Eurovision. Not the song contest anymore, but the visions of the future which both include and exclude Europe. Our Eurovision has defined the last parliamentary elections. Our Eurovision will define the next government. Having the annual Singing Kitch-Fest in the Serbian capital was just another symbolic nod to this all-important question.
I note, in passing, the uncomfortably symbolic triple-whammy of the Eurovision winning song: "Dreaming." In Serbia. By a Russian. Paid for by an American. All paths converge?
As a concept, I get the feeling that the preoccupation with Europe is somewhat overplayed here. The facts of the case are as follows: we have been offered to join the Euroclub of Eurovisionists. The population appears to be in a quandary about it - not about whether we want to join, but rather how, and under what conditions. Joining Europe, it must also be said, is not inevitable. It will be a conscious choice made either by the government or directly by the people in a referendum. How we decide and who decides is a subject of great indecision and will also be decisive in the decision on the new government. Confusing enough?
A further Euro-wrinkle to be ironed is the EURO part of Eurovision in Serbia. Many millions of euros are staked all around the table on this issue, with many standing to gain and lose depending on the direction of the drift. While gloomy predictions of isolation and many levels of poverty (economic, diplomatic, and the like) are being cast upon the waters, problematically, it has yet to be clearly explained to the populus how a pro-Eurovision will translate into better times and fatter wallets for the people.
Therefore, I retract my opening statement. The fat lady is only warming up her voice here in Serbia. And her warbling may keep us entertained for quite a while.
It seems that Serbians are looking at standing back from the EU for now, and seeing what deals they can get from all sides, rather than locking themselves in one way or the other. Have they learned a thing or two from watching the Irish? Ireland has been the beneficiaries of large amounts of euromoney, but the Irish in their hearts never abandoned a feeling of national independence and destiny, and they have enjoyed large amounts of FDI from the US at the same time as playing along with 'Eurovision'.
The game for the small countries is to get all the perks, but not to really allow the EU, the USA or even Russia, to get into the driving seat (and the UK in Ireland's case, in the past). Serbia has already signed an energy deal with Russia, and could yet see more benefits from that quarter. Again, it's a classic 'let's play all sides' situation.
Medvedev in his acceptance speech of office as Russian President yesterday showed that Russia also sees vital interests in the Serbian game.
From EU Foundation Monthly Report -
He made what appeared to be a clear reference to the West’s determination to break up Serbia. Speaking of the desire for peace and for the need to avoid stimulating war and conflict, President Medvedev said, “We must take extremely seriously any attempts to incite racial or religious hatred, spread the ideology of terrorism and extremism, interfere with the affairs of other countries, and all the more so, attempt to revise borders. We cannot let the rules of international law go ignored. These laws are the fruit of the entire international community’s labour and without them we cannot build a secure life and a just world order.”
The big powers are playing out their competitive games, it seems, as if in pre-1914 mode. The little guys just try to hang on to what they've got and play the game for advantage.
Ireland has played Eurovision and won big. She could well decide soon that it's time to cash in her chips and leave the Euro-casino. The bills to be paid could well start to mount, especially if the Irish allows the EU to seize full political control, as they are now trying to do via Lisbon. Ireland should play on, and reject the Treaty. Becoming an EU colony was never part of the Irish gameplan.
Serbia should be her inspiration.