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US Policy on the “New” Balkans: the Threat of the Union of Serbian Municipalities to the Kosovo Government

“Nothing in politics happens by accident. If it was, it was planned that way.”

                                                                      Franklin D Roosevelt

Despite the fact that the agreement on the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities in the north of Kosovo was signed between Kosovo and Serbia in 2013, under the mediation of the EU , the fact that the Constitutional Court of Kosovo resisted the establishment of the said union for 10 years, fearing that it might “reach autonomy” began to annoy the USA and Europe.

Provocative actions, which started with Serbian demonstrators objecting to the results of municipal elections in Kosovo territory in the last month, began to target both Kosovo Albanian police and journalists and Kosovo Force (KFOR) officials working in NATO in the country. Last week, Serbian special forces crossed into Kosovo and kidnapped 3 Kosovo police, which brought the tension between the two countries to an extreme.

Kosovo government officials and the public question the silence of the US, EU and NATO in the face of recent events.

While Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti tries to explain that the international community’s silence in the face of Serbia’s actions in Kosovo is unreasonable and harmful, it is very remarkable that he has been subjected to serious criticism by the US special representatives and the US embassy in Kosovo.

The target was Kurti , not Serbia !

In this crisis between Serbia and Kosovo for the last two months, the target country was not Serbia this time, but Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti. If we look at the development of events, the USA and the EU in general are forcing Kurti to make serious concessions in Kosovo. Government officials seem to see for certain that many sanctions will be imposed against Kosovo if the Serbs are prevented from establishing a state within a state.

US Special Representative for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar said: “We do not allow a leader to affect the stability of the region. Those who refuse to partner with us will suffer the consequences.” While making his statement, he openly threatens Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti and the Kosovo government.

It is also stated that if the tension in the north of the country escalates, the sanctions will include individual measures against Prime Minister Kurti and Interior Minister Sveçla, and that the two Kosovo leaders can be declared persona non grata on the grounds that they pose a threat to security and peace.

USA wants to “take over” Kurti

If we go back to the recent history, we see that the USA wants to take over the Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti (just like Alija Izetbegovic). Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti, on the other hand, seems determined not to allow the second Dayton, namely the Union of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo, despite all the pressures.

When we look at the eastern front, the statements of the Spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mariya Zakharova, regarding the Kosovo issue are also remarkable.

Comparing Northern Mitrovica in Kosovo to Donbas, Zaharova also gave advice and encouragement to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, saying, “There is no use in negotiating with Kurti.” She gives the message.

On the Kosovo issue, we see that Russia and the US Special Envoy for the Balkans Escobar and Serbian Ambassador Christopher Hill are in line with each other.

We see that Kosovo’s test this time is not with the Serbs, but with the USA, the EU, the Albanian Government and its powerful leader, Edi Rama .

It is interesting that the opposition parties in Kosovo are also silent on this issue!

Head of the main opposition Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Memli Krasniqi, underlined that he has never seen international representatives so worried and that the opposition wants to improve relations with allies such as the USA and the EU, noting that the solution to the current situation rests with the Kosovo government.

The opposition did not comment too critically on the US, European and Serbian government. The closeness of the Kosovo opposition to the Tirana government and Prime Minister Rama and its silence on the Serbia-Kosovo issue draws attention.

Kurti, on the other hand, gets his support from the nationalist segment and his own base. Resisting the pressures of the USA and the EU for the last year, Kurti seems not to give up easily, while struggling in a tired and lonely position in the face of the hot developments in the country for the past two weeks.

Kurti has a strong profile with an idealistic and courageous character. Despite all the pressures, I believe that he will go to the end in this struggle with his warrior and intellectual personality. Kurti does not want to go down in history as “the politician who gave the lands of Kosovo to the Serbs”.

B.C. Kosovo Albanians, one of the oldest peoples of the region since the 4th century, pride themselves on being the descendants of the Dandanians of the Ilirs.

Despite all the pressures of the USA, Kurti’s resistance is surprising to the European leaders. I see it as an important advantage that the UK has been openly supporting Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti lately.

In addition to the harsh reactions to Kosovo, we see that individuals among EU parliamentarians have begun to loudly defend the rightness of Kosovo. The special session of the British parliament in Kosovo last week was also a very important event. In addition, different voices about Kosovo started to emerge in the USA.

It was meaningful that EU Council Member Kati Schneeberger called for sanctions against Serbia, not Kosovo. What sanctions are planned? Why are sanctions being imposed on Kosovo?” she asked the question.

There may be a division in the United States on exactly how to act on this issue. Because there is an extreme opposition to Kurti in some names, while others make different explanations. The US also asked Vucic on Saturday to immediately release the 3 Kosovo policemen detained in Serbia.

The solution proposals of the USA and the EU do not relieve the concerns

The solution proposals of two major problems in the region (the Republika Srpska of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Serbs in the north of Kosovo) that overshadow the efforts of the USA and the EU to make Serbia a part of Europe, never concern the social, economic, political and security concerns of Bosnians and Kosovo Albanians. it doesn’t fix it. The important development that went unnoticed last week was the start of military exercises between the Serbian army and the armies of the USA, England, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, North Macedonia and Slovenia in the Bujanovac region of Serbia. NATO countries’ holding exercises in Serbia is considered a strategic success. The exercises were organized by the Serbian army and the European command of the US armed forces.

Kosovo-Serbia tensions affected the two brotherly countries the most.

The crisis between Kosovo and Serbia has brought Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti and Albanian Prime Minister Rama and Albanian communities into mental confrontation. Albanian Prime Minister Rama’s statement that those who opposed the draft proposal of the Union of Serbian Municipalities, both in Pristina and Belgrade, said that they were “communists in their minds” started a new debate.

“I am pleased that the effort to make a tangible contribution to the dialogue and the proposal of the Union of Serbian Municipalities was well received by our allies, and I can say two things to those who oppose it without even knowing its content, both in Pristina and Belgrade. First, those who talk like that still live in communism, and politics at that time was concerned with who said what, not who said what. Secondly, this region is not only theirs but ours as well.” used the phrases.

Regarding his relations with Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti, Rama said that “their goals are the same, but they follow different paths”.

Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti retorted that Rama should present a proposal for the Albanian minority in Serbia instead of submitting a proposal for the draft proposal for the Union of Serbian Municipalities.

The annual meeting of the Albanian and Kosovo governments was canceled by Albanian Prime Minister Rama. The reason for Rama’s cancellation is thought to be the worsening of the crisis in Kosovo and the worsening of relations with Western countries.

Prime Minister Rama’s unilateral cancellation of the joint governments meeting with Kosovo has also led to comments that Albania is the first country to impose sanctions on Kosovo.

When we look at all these developments, in fact, Rama seems to have assumed a diplomatic role between the EU, USA and Serbia in the regional problems of Kosovo, Albanians and Bosnians. However, the fact that NATO and the USA take the role of a persuasive communicator in the solution of regional problems, without discussion, will bring serious problems.

The reply of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Kurti, to Rama, “Let him focus on the Albanians of Presova Valley in Serbia, instead of fighting for the Union of Serbian Municipalities in Kosovo”, caused it to be interpreted as an emotional break between the Albanians of the two brotherly countries. It is necessary to read well the political vision, method, historical experience and cultural differences between Rama and Kurti.

Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti said, “Edi Rama should propose a draft law on Albanians in the Presheva Valley to Vucic at the next Open Balkan meeting, instead of sending proposals on Serbs to Paris and Berlin. After all, Article 8 of the Albanian Constitution obliges it to protect the rights of Albanians.” He used critical language against Rama with his statements.

In fact, the “Mini Schengen” projects between Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia, which started with Open Balkan, increased the popularity of Albanian Prime Minister Rama among the Western world, the Balkan countries and the Albanian community. Kosovo and North Macedonia-Bulgaria) had become a prominent figure with a key role. However, the fact that the events in the north of Kosovo targeted the national interests and territorial integrity of the Kosovo nation brought the prime ministers of Albania and Kosovo against each other.

It is a known fact that there are very serious ideological differences between Rama and Kurti between the ideals of relations between the USA, the EU and Serbia. The fact that the agreement on the union of municipalities imposed by the US and EU administrators since 2013 has been tolerated or postponed for 10 years shows that the issue has now reached the final solution stage and that they will make Kosovo pay a price in 2023, regardless of the consequences.

The growth of the Ukraine – Russia war and the different tactical policy of the USA and Europe in the Balkans are making the communities of Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina uneasy.

We see that Kurti has also angered Western leaders with the fact that he is not an easy morsel for the EU and the USA.

Can the West easily give up on Kurti?

Experts who are familiar with the Balkans well know that Prime Minister Kurti is an important figure in Kosovo politics, who is powerful and has no alternative. Can the US get results while considering formulas for all kinds of sanctions, punishments and pressures, including the plan to overthrow Kurti? It does not seem possible!

It is very difficult for Kurti to sign the Agreement on the Union of Serbian Municipalities, which is similar to the Dayton Agreement that Aliya Izetbegovic was forced into during the hot war.

The USA and Europe imposed the Dayton Agreement on the Bosnian leader Aliya Izetbegovic, and after declaring that they would cut off the aid to the Bosnia and Herzegovina state and government as long as he remained in power, and the support given to the country’s restructuring, Aliya had to leave the administration.

Kurti’s response to the West’s imposition of the Union of Serbian Municipalities on its territory, “It does not want to be like Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is divided and fragmented.

uz” should be accepted as a very meaningful historical discourse.

Today, the process of forming the “New Western Balkans” of NATO and the EU is taking place. Bosnians and Albanians, who were victims of yesterday, are now being asked to pay a price for the plan for political, cultural and economic transformation without war and for the inclusion of Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo Serbs in the process. The difficulty of the process is here for me!

Kurti presented the 5-point alternative solution proposal for the Kosovo-Serbia issue to the ambassadors of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borell, Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak and Quint countries and announced that they are waiting for approval for the implementation of the said plan. The main problem is that the USA is seriously threatening Kosovo this time.

Escobar, the US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, said that failure to meet their demands would have negative consequences for Kosovo. Kurti, on the other hand, described the US’s coming to them with Serbia’s demands as “unacceptable”.

The US and the EU cannot subdue the Kosovo prime minister because Kurti has no alternative in Kosovo. It is a well-known fact that opposition politicians are very weak.

At a press conference in Tirana, Rama pointed out that the situation in northern Kosovo has reached the dimensions of a political tragedy for the Republic of Kosovo. In his own way, Rama was put on the stage as a political figure who, in my opinion, played an important role in the second restructuring process of NATO and Europe in the Balkans, after the collapse of Yugoslavia.

Rama is a colorful, pragmatic, strong and popular personality who does not neglect to establish relations with names such as Soros and Kissinger who have an important role in Eastern European and Balkan politics.

In the new process, NATO will not allow new boutique countries to be a hindrance while advancing towards its goals in the Balkans.

Russia also aims to divide the EU for the war in Ukraine through destabilization in the Balkans.

Rama responded to those who criticized him as follows:

“The statements of our strategic allies regarding this situation are becoming increasingly alarming. Honestly, it is incomprehensible why the Kosovo authorities are hesitant to appease a situation where it is obvious that the biggest loser is Kosovo, every day and every hour.”

Arguing that Serbia has done what it has done before, while Kosovo has done what it has never and in any way done before, Rama argues that Kosovo is “publicly blamed by all the strategic allies of the Albanian nation”.

Describing the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities as the key to finally opening the door to Kosovo’s international approval, Rama argues that the recognition of Kosovo by everyone and the membership of the UN in all international forums will pave the way for mutual recognition with Serbia.

Wishing that the dialogue between the two countries would be useful to take the dialogue to another dimension and to enable the parties to talk about concrete things for the successful conclusion of the dialogue, Rama said, “Serbia lost Kosovo in 1999. Serbia has no power to touch a single strand of Kosovo’s hair.” also made a statement.

As a result, Albanian Prime Minister Rama’s support for EU countries and the USA, which demanded the establishment of the Union of Serbian Municipalities, is seen by Kosovo Albanians as a major blow against Kosovo.

In terms of Turkey ‘s approach to the Kosovo-Serbia issue, we see that it has been conducting sensitive diplomacy with the degree of historical closeness since the war years in 1999. However, we will witness the game-changing effects of the restructuring of the region under the umbrella of NATO, and we need to be prepared for them.

By the way, I think that the relations between Kosovo and Albanian heads of government are going to a risky period. We should never allow the rift between the two brotherly countries. A tripartite summit chaired by Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, where Kurti and Rama will come together, could be very beneficial in this regard.

Source : Balkan News