Paris, February 12, 2019
Deconstructing the Kosovar President’s Idea of Border Correction
At this very moment, the promotion of the idea of Kosovo’s unification with Albania is being used as bait to push through the idea of Kosovo’s partition and is therefore against the European interest of Kosovo and Albania, as Europe is not a promoter of nation-states. If the Kosovo partition agreement (presented on the terms of border rectification) were signed, Kosovo would be curled up like ‘la peau de chagrin.’ It would lose the north, where all its water and mineral resources come from, and would never include Presevo* in its borders.
I have already stated my position on the statements made by the Albanian Prime Minister and, most recently, by the President of Kosovo, concerning the reunification of Kosovo and Albania.
Firstly, the unification of Kosovo with Albania, the dream of all Albanians since the separation of Kosovo from Albanian territory, could only be achieved when both states were strong and functional, and when there was a well-conceived and elaborated long-term strategy, which at present is completely absent.
Secondly, Kosovo is defined as a multi-ethnic state, not an Albanian one. Because of this specificity, Kosovo’s constitution does not allow it to reunite with other countries. Even if the constitution did allow it, Kosovo’s parliament would never have the majority required for the country’s unification with Albania.
So the new state of Kosovo under construction and an Albanian state under the gangrene of organized crime are not in a position to solve their internal problems, let alone achieve the unification of the two states, a procedure which, as I’ve just mentioned, would require a real strategy underpinned by solid skills. So it’s quite clear that the reunification of Kosovo and Albania could not possibly be on the agenda right now. So why is it being brought forward?
There’s even less imagination when it comes to integrating Presevo into the state of Kosovo. It also ignores the fact that Mr. Seselj and his supporters would never allow the peaceful handover to Kosovo of this territory, which was part of Serbia when the former Yugoslavia was dismantled.
This article attempts to show that the demands made by the President of Kosovo and Albanian Prime Minister for the unification of Kosovo with Albania at this precise moment in time, when the problems between Kosovo and Serbia have not yet been resolved, plead in favor of the division of Kosovo, thus creating a precedent for the rectification of borders, opening the way for the creation of Greater Serbia.
In short, the agreement would be as follows: Serbia would give up at least part of the Presevo valley (populated mainly by Albanians) and recover the area north of the divided city of Mitrovica (Gazivode Lake and Trepçe) where an international peacekeeping force is still stationed.
The President of Kosovo, as the political leader of the guerrilla war against the Serb paramilitaries, had understood the limits of Dr. Rugova’s Pacific Resistance and was aware that without the pressure of arms, it would be difficult to change things, putting his stamp on Kosovo’s independence. But now he’s “naively” asking for everything and thinks he can integrate Presevo or Kosovo without any compensation!
How are they trying to blind public opinion to the Serbian idea of partitioning Kosovo?
I – The reunification of Presevo with Kosovo. Presevo is a region neglected by the Serbian authorities, from which Albanians have fled in droves. It’s a region devoid of natural resources, and Serbia considers it second-rate. Behind the idea of integrating Presevo into the state of Kosovo, much desired by the Albanian population, lie great dangers. At the time of the former Yugoslavia, this region was part of Serbia and not of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo, so it’s a question of exchanges between the constituent parties of the former Yugoslavia. This would be a precedent.
II – Union of Albania with Kosovo
If North Mitrovica were to join Serbia, Kosovo would be deprived of its natural resources and thus unable to survive economically. Pristina, a city without a river, depends on Lake Ujman (Gazivode to the Serbs) for water and electricity, and the lake is crucial to Kosovo’s energy independence and water supply.
Three-quarters of the lake is on Kosovar territory, but in a predominantly Serbian sector where Pristina is unable to impose its sovereignty.
For all these reasons, the division of the north of the country is difficult to accept by the Kosovar public, let alone the wealth of Trepça. This is where the reunification of Kosovo with Albania comes in, as a lure:
The Trepça mine and Lake Ujman could indeed be given to the Serbs, but reuniting with Albania will give Kosovo an outlet to the sea so that the whole of Albania and what’s left of Kosovo becomes a bigger country, able to survive!
The question is: why, precisely at this moment, is Serbia forgetting its accusations concerning Greater Albania? Could there be an agreement between Vučić and Thaçi?
In conclusion, as paradoxical as it may seem, the idea of uniting Albania with Kosovo, which is being floated at the moment, is a lure to get the idea of correcting borders (the exchange of territories) swallowed by public opinion in Kosovo, as we explained above. The union of Kosovo with Albania is far from being a serious project for either Albania or Kosovo. It is therefore an artifice. Sometimes it’s used to draw the public’s attention away from the frequent crises in Albania and Kosovo, but at this particular moment, it’s simply used to make the public swallow the pill of the amputation of northern Kosovo and the creation of a greater Serbia, which nobody in the Balkans or Europe wants.
Serbia couldn’t recycle this old nationalist idea without arousing the opposition of Europe, which has no illusions about the drama this kind of idea could lead to… Would it then be – as implausible as it may seem – the President of Kosovo, himself, who volunteered?
Once the agreement has been reached, there’s no guarantee that it can be put into practice.
Let’s imagine that the exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia is decided. The Presevo Valley is to be returned to Kosovo, while the north, beginning at the Ibar River, would be attached to Serbia.
A little geopolitical fiction:
“Vojislav Šešelj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party, together with fanatical representatives of Orthodoxy, the Dveri movement, Treća Srbija, the 1389 movement, and the new Alliance for Serbia movement, addressed thousands of demonstrators in Belgrade on the day the agreement came into force, demanding civil disobedience.
Just as northern Mitrovica was being peacefully handed over to Serbia by the Kosovar authorities, and the Serbian army had already taken control of the territory, hundreds of Serbian demonstrators set off by bus to the Presevo Valley to prevent it from being incorporated into Kosovo.
The Albanian population of Presevo took to the streets to welcome the Kosovo Special Forces, but contrary to their hopes, they were met by Šešelj’s supporters, who got off the buses by the dozen. We’ll never know how many Albanians were killed. No European observer mission was present! With the loss of its northern part, Kosovo has shrunk to the bone. In Prishtina, food is scarce, and the city is plunged into darkness and dust. Without light and now without electricity or water from Ujman, under the pollution of Obilić, it’s becoming impossible to live. Vetëvendosje, itself having fallen for the idea of Presevo integration and reunification with Albania, is sounding the alarm and protesting to Pristina, but it’s already too late.”
Let’s move on from fiction.
This agreement would be a lost cause for the Albanians! Without wishing to impugn his intentions, we can safely say that the current president of Kosovo, who is preaching border rectification, is acting like an unimaginative politician, as are his supporters. The Albanian Prime Minister, too, called even the opponents of Thaçi’s idea donkeys. I wouldn’t use that term for either the opponents or the supporters of the Kosovar President.
We stress that this is not the case for the entire Albanian region, which includes the Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac valleys, and here’s another trap: why not the entire Albanian part of southern Serbia, but only the Preshevo Valley?
**The European Institute for Security Studies has published an analysis in which it imagines what could happen in two years’ time if in 2019 an agreement were signed between Kosovo and Serbia for the exchange of territory and the correction of borders.
*** It should be noted in passing that there was a wave of political murders during and after the Kosovo war, in which the name of the Kosovar President was mentioned. There have also been accusations as implausible as Dick Marty’s report. But there are still others, cases like that of journalist Ali Uka. After an argument with Mr. Haliti, a close associate of Thaçi, this Tirana-based journalist was brutally disfigured with a bottle and a screwdriver and found dead in 1997. His roommate at the time was none other than Hashim Thaçi. (Report identifies Hashim Thaci as ‘big fish’ in organised crime, The Guardian, January 2011).
© klarabudapost Original English
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