Why do we want to be citizens of EU? What makes EU an ideal community of states? Is our goal the EU or its values? These questions are the key to further development of our country and our region.
It seems to me that our public is deluding itself that Europe will build us a better society instead of us doing in on our own. But the point is the opposite: we ought to prove what we are a capable country, not a passive negotiator. The only assistance the EU offers comes through its funds, via rigorous procedures that ought to be thoroughly understood before use. Even if we win the assistance we are often unable to use it according to the rules. Does the problem lie in the EU, in its bureaucratic machinery, complicated demands, incomprehensible acquis, etc? Or is it simply our problem – a problem of mentality?
The problem is in ourselves as individuals, in the political, sociological and economic sense. We need to understand that by joining the EU we will not become better. Improvement doesn’t come through prestige (the title of a member state), but through quality, through self-realisation. The conditions set by the EU today constitute hereditas globale – the global norms and standards (with the exception of the specific European economic policies). We are the only ones who can improve our situation and decide on our way. Montenegro, just like other countries in the region, should focus on internal issues and policies, as well as their economies and the most important economic branches, instead of just fixating on the EU and its opinions. I don’t call for complete ignorance, just rational ignorance. The notion of rational ignorance is often used to describe the voters’ interest in a particular political party or issues, and here it refers to the lack of necessity of a large administration. Don’t take me wrong, I am not asking the countries to abandon their relations with EU, just to reduce the costs, on both sides, of excessive bureaucracy. If we are able to utilise the funds cleverly, we will soon progress towards these values. The question is, will the countries that fulfil all the criteria wish to join the EU structures later? The decision and the solution to this puzzle must come from the people.
I see the solution in a thorough reform of education, and in making the vote obligatory. Every citizen must decide on his or her fate. A modern citizen ought to question every decision made by the officials in his or her name, as well as everything else in his or her life. I don’t wish to spread pessimism, just to offer questioning as a solution. It is necessary to support diversity, because to listen is to learn. “When was the last time you changed your mind on something important? I changed my mind a few times. One thing I can say for sure is that I never changed while surrounded by people who agree with me.” (Schlesinger, 2009:26). Questioning the facts and awakening citizens’ awareness can only come though educational reform and lifelong learning.
Politics became a reality that ought to be embraced and utilised. To be a citizen of a state means a lot more than just holding its documents.
To solve our internal problems is to make a step towards a better tomorrow. If our main goal is to attain European (world) values, and not to revert to national and identity issues, we already made a revolutionary step towards EU. And this: self-sufficiency and initiative, good neighbourly relations, strong institutions, decentralization of power and civic activism is our alternative.
Sounds paradoxical, but the alternative is precisely what Europe has been telling us day in and day out – work on yourselves.