OpEd

A European hat for the "dinar crisis"

Does the pension of Kosovo Serbs depend on the speed of the armored car that physically carries the money to the settlements of Kosovo or on the speed of the electronic transfer in the banking system, that is the question now?

1.

There are, at least for the purposes of this article, two European discourses regarding the next crisis in relations between Kosovo and Serbia, the "dinar crisis".

It has been a couple of weeks now that the critical discourse towards the decisions of the Kosovo authorities to establish order in the payment system is being treated as a potential threat to the social condition of the Kosovo Serbs. Since it is already officially known, money is sent from Serbia for 87 thousand salaries, pensions, social assistance and agricultural stimulation, within a closed para-state system which operates with dinars, the ban on physical transport (of its operation as a legal method of payment) is is treated as an action that may endanger the normal life of these users. And this concern is understandable due to the fact that the ban on the physical circulation of the dinar is a blow to the foundation of the pre-state financial system. It is also legitimate for the very fact that a pre-state system has not been replaced either by a clear transition to another system or by immediate replacement with another system.

So, it is not a matter of concern that the physical presence of the dinar is stopped, because it does not even have a place as the basis of a pre-state payment system, but it is a matter of concern that citizens who were paid with dinars until a week ago - whether for work, pension or forms of social support - they have not found another system that would give them money in euros.

In this way, it would be possible to reduce the European discourse to a benevolent and fundamental interpretation, once it is stripped of its alarmist-reprimanding tone towards the Kosovo authorities and inviting that this matter also be somehow mediated by Mr. Borrell and Mr. Lajçak.

2.

There is also another discourse, which has coincided in time and only at first glance is not related to the "dinar crisis". It is the discourse of the "Growth Plan" of the EU for the Western Balkans, which is built within a logic that the six countries of the Western Balkans will be helped with a fund of 6 billion euros in the appropriate reforms, so that by 2030 integrate into the European Common Market. At the last Western Balkans-EU summit held in Skopje at the end of January it was even explicitly stated that this growth plan, the measures of which will be made known soon, is designed so that no country can hinder the other in reforming and entering the European Common Market.

In the words of one of the main diplomats engaged in this project and pronounced in Skopje: "We committed to work on a series of specific reforms, starting with the easier transport of goods and money that will begin, during this year, to show practical effect. One of them will reduce the costs of moving money by about 3 to 5% for each transaction. It's money in people's pockets. It facilitates the cross-border movement of currency".

In this discourse, it is assumed that within the six countries of the Western Balkans during this year, money will move from one country to another freely and at a lower cost than until now. And in this discourse, it is not that the "dinar crisis" does not exist - but there is talk of another category of money movement, which is completely different from that of the dinar that is loaded as cash in armored trucks and physically distributed in Serbian-majority settlements in Kosovo.

From this point of view, the problem of money mobility is not measured by the speed of the armored car that carries the money from the Kosovo-Serbia border to its users within Kosovo, but in the elimination of legal-economic obstacles in the interbank electronic transfer.

3.

Although at first sight there is inconsistency between the two European discourses, conventionally called "autoblinda" and "electronic transfer", it can actually be transformed into complementary discourses. So, yes, at the same time it talks about a problem that has been caused by the anachronism of bringing money across the border in an armored car, and it talks about how to facilitate the current electronic transfer of money across borders.  

If it exists, this inconsistency is easily eliminated conceptually by rejecting the possibility of returning to the autoarmor approach. So, no, there will be no more dinars entering the border, being physically transported through Kosovo settlements and distributed to end users as part of a para-state organization. The concept of physical border crossing, the concept of physical money and the concept of the para-state system that makes the distribution (parallel structures of Serbia in Kosovo) must be eliminated from this chain of transmission.

However, the most important part of this description will remain the right and obligation for the Serbian citizens of Kosovo to receive pensions, social assistance and legitimate donation for the work they develop in the fields that Serbia considers as primary (education and health).  

And this right and obligation, although it concerns a small problem in the Western Balkans, can find a solution in a broader European vision for the Western Balkans. If the six countries of the Western Balkans have agreed no less than two weeks ago that money can move electronically between their countries for 3-5 percent cheaper in commissions than until now, then the movement should be seen in this context. of money from Serbia to Kosovo and vice versa. (This issue even exceeds the current context of the salary and pension problem and is also related to the payments between the businessmen of Kosovo and Serbia and the increase in the volume of trade between these two countries).

It would be illogical for the EU to request the speed and reduction of commissions for electronic movement between six Western Balkan countries and a few weeks later to tell Kosovo and Serbia to find a modality that is completely different, that does not exist neither the electronic element of the transfer, nor the speed nor the reduction of the cost of the transfer for the citizens of these two countries.

4.

So is it easily solvable?

Solvable yes, easy no.

There are two issues that need special attention.

One is how to make the transition from a pre-state payment system (parallel system) where the Serbian citizen now feels obliged to participate (even with proof of loyalty by signing, voting, etc. to the state of Serbia) to an open system where the account of his banking has nothing to do with loyalty to whom, but serves to use his right to receive a pension, social assistance, salary or donation.

The second is how to do it within the coordinates of a larger vision, that of the European Growth Plan, in which Kosovo and Serbia will use this opportunity to establish a short transition between the current state of payments and that of growth of the electronic speed of financial circulation between the two countries. The immediate beneficiaries of such a transition would be the Kosovo Serbs who would receive payments in euros in their bank accounts within weeks. But at the same time Serbia and Kosovo would overcome the current "crisis" with a European vision.

However, this means that the two countries must cooperate, and this has so far proved to be a difficult task.