US support for the project of Greater Albania

US support for the project of Greater Albania

March 24, 2021

By Ljubiša Malenica for the Saker Blog

The Greater Albania project has its roots in the nineteenth century and idea of ​​the Prizren League to unite in one territorial unit all areas that were allegedly originally inhabited by Albanians. The Prizren League itself can be seen as an extension of the Ottoman authorities, since it was founded in 1878, immediately after the end of the war between Russia, Serbia and Montenegro against Turkey.

Given that Turkey was defeated in the war, Istanbul had to look for other methods of protecting its own interests during the peace process. League was equipped with weapons and ammunition by the Porte, members of the organization were individuals well known for their loyalty to the Sultan, and Ottoman authorities took upon themselves the responsibility of paying for congress in Prizren. All these facts support the thesis claiming Prizren League was an organization created as expression of Ottoman interests in the Balkans.[1]

Turkey’s interests have been significantly undermined by the San Stefano Peace Treaty and the Berlin Congress, and, as might be expected, the Prizren League took a negative stance towards both peace conferences. Moreover, during the Berlin Congress, the League sent a memorandum to the major powers asking for recognition of the Albanian national identity, a very illustrative fact in itself, and the realization of autonomy within the Ottoman Empire for all territories that would compose the so-called “Greater Albania”.[2]

Simultaneously with these documents, an additional memorandum was sent to the Berlin Congress, called the Skadar Memorandum, requesting from Great Britain[3] to take upon itself the role of a guarantor for the creation of the Albanian state. Considering the role of London as a self-proclaimed balancer whose main goal was to maintain the status quo in continental Europe, the Albanian choice is not surprising.

In terms of political relations during the period in question, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro have already been allies of Moscow on several occasions. The same could be expected if Greece became independent. The development of the situation at that moment was already, obviously, to the detriment of Istanbul, and any future conflict in the Balkans would mean a further liberation of the territories previously occupied by the Ottomans. The First and Second Balkan Wars are illustrative cases in point. Given that all Slavic countries in the Balkans, at that period, had an interest in preserving the alliance and cultural ties with Russia, the eventual withdrawal of Turkey from the Balkans and the re-establishment of Slavic statehood would create a situation in which most of the Balkan Peninsula would find itself within the Russian sphere of influence.

London could not afford such a development given the understandable, and on many previous occasions expressed, fear of a united continental Europe in whose presence the British Isles would be a negligible force, probably subordinated to cultural and political dictates of the continental center of power.

The realization of Albanian ambitions did not come with the Berlin Congress, but they did not have to wait long for creation of their own state, with the blessing of official London. After the end of the First Balkan War, the Ottoman Empire was completely expelled from the majority of Balkan Peninsula. Despite the fact that the Albanians did not play any role in liberation of the occupied territories from Ottoman rule, London Agreement of 1913 established the independent state of Albania.

In addition to earlier mentioned documents created by the Prizren League, Albanian pretensions towards the territories of the surrounding peoples can be seen in this period through the actions of Ismail Cemali. In the midst of the First Balkan War, Cemali gathers representatives of the Albanians in city of Vlora, where they proceed to adopt the declaration on independence of Albania.

If we take into account that representatives in question came from all parts of the four Ottoman provinces (vilayets), i.e. Kosovo, Skadar, Janjina and Bitola, back then inhabited by Albanians, it can be assumed that Albania, imagined by the present delegates, included the territorial totality of all four mentioned provinces. Claims on lands of others become clear when one realizes that Albanians represented a minority in a significant part of the four provinces. Representatives gathered in Vlora were not elected representatives, so it is unsurprising this declaration of independence was completely ignored by both the Ottoman Empire and the then great powers. The Albanian state established during the London Conference was defined within significantly more modest borders.

During the Second World War, Albania was known as Greater Albania in the period from 1939 until 1943, and had status of an Italian protectorate which incorporated, after the fall of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, parts of Serbia. During their rule, the Italians found a natural ally in the irredentist aspirations of the Albanian elite towards the territories of the neighboring peoples where Albanians lived, regardless of the numerical ratio between them and the domicile population. It is a historical fact that period of Italian occupation was accompanied by a large number of crimes committed by Albanians against the local population in the occupied territories.

After the collapse of Italy and defeat of Germany, the short-lived state project of “Greater Albania” ended like the Independent State of Croatia, but the aspirations remained. After the fall of communist regime in the early 1990s, irredentist claims again occupied a significant part of the political and intellectual thought within Albania.

Considering the influence of United States in the Balkans during the last three decades, there can be no doubt that activities in question, intentionally or not, were in favor of the idea of Greater Albania. Both during the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and during war in Kosmet, Washington’s position was obviously in favor of Serbian enemies. The conduct of organizations under the influence or direct leadership of the United States, both during military operations and in peacetime, was undoubtedly directed against Serbian interest in any shape or form. This fact alone was enough to strengthen the position idea of Greater Albania had within Albanian population, given that over time its realization seemed to become more and more probable.

Ethnic cleansing of Serbs from the Federation of BiH and Croatia, carried out with silent blessing from the West, served as a pattern of behavior that Albanians could apply during the Kosovo conflict without fear of criticism or intervention. There was no trepidation Tirana could be bombed by NATO planes due to the ethnic cleansing of Kosmet by the KLA.

Revitalization of the idea of​​ Greater Albania, in its core, is not so much about the American relationship with the Albanians as it is about US perception of the Serbs.

The statement of George Kenney, a former Yugoslavia desk officer at the US state department, is an illustrative example how was Yugoslavia perceived as a state, and by extension, Serbs as a people who were most interested in its preservation. In a 2008 statement to the British Guardian, Kenney pointed out that “In post-cold war Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization”.[4]

In addition to American interests, the role of Germany, which immediately after its unification took a hostile attitude towards Yugoslavia and the Serbs, should not be forgotten. Considering the last one hundred and twenty years of European history, one gets the impression that the desire for domination of the continent by Germany is the main catalyst for a significant part of the misfortune which befell Europe.

In a world characterized by the hegemonic role of the United States, after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, it was inevitable that the ideological features of the victor, in this case capitalism, globalism, free trade, multiculturalism, and democracy, would become a model for transformation of other countries, regardless of their wishes and desires of the domicile population.

The characteristics of the victorious ideology were, of course, largely beneficial to the United States themselves, given that the system was established with the aim of reproducing, into infinity, American, and to a lesser extent West European, global dominance. It is not surprising that all serious forms of opposition to the imposed system were seen as a danger, given that at the same time they represented a departure from the propagandist illusion there were no alternatives to the new state of affairs, that the system represented the best way to regulate social relations and that everyone benefited from it.

The fact that the new system quickly took on the outlines of a neocolonial model of behavior, especially towards Eastern European countries, with pronounced demographic and economic parasitism embodied in legal structures and norms of both the European Union and other world organizations such as the IMF and World Bank, was supposed to remain hidden behind an appropriate smokescreen of consumer culture and a general degradation of cultural standards in behavior and action.

The geopolitical interests of Washington, and of the West in general, in conjunction with their economic interests, were not to be called into question by opposition, especially by a state such as Yugoslavia or a people such as Serbs. Allowing the general narrative of globalization and the norms and quality of the Western model to be questioned by small states and peoples was unthinkable, given that it would simultaneously point to the existence of imbalances and problems within the model itself and would further give the impression that the model itself was subject to change through dialogue and consensus. As we have already mentioned, the very purpose of the model was contrary to this development and force, both in legal and physical terms, remained the only way to protect interests of the original creators of an ideology that until recently was considered irreplaceable.

The easiest way to deal with Yugoslavia and the Serbs was to encourage internal divisions and recruit non-Serb local elites into implementation of American goals. One obvious example was the influence of Warren Zimmerman[5] on the beginning of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Gathering representatives of all three sides in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Portuguese Ambassador to Sarajevo at that time, Jose Cutileiro, and the British Lord Peter Carrington succeeded in creating a plan for the division and decentralization of Bosnia and Herzegovina that was, to an extent, satisfactory for all three sides.

The agreement, also known as the Lisbon Treaty, was signed by representatives of all three sides on March 18, 1992. Ten days later, US Ambassador Warren Zimmerman arrives in Sarajevo where he meets with Alija Izetbegovic. Soon after, Izetbegovic quickly withdraws his signature from the previously reached arrangement. Although there is no documentation, or other direct record, of what was said during this meeting between Zimmerman and Izetbegovic, sequence of events is far from accidental and indicates a high degree of connection between the encounter and the outbreak of war in BiH.

According to unofficial information, during the meeting, Zimmerman gave Izetbegovic a firm assurance that United States were ready to recognize Bosnia and Herzegovina as an independent country. The fact that Washington recognized BiH as an independent state only nine days after the meeting, on April 7, 1992, just as Zimmermann claimed, gives credence to the unofficial information about the nature of the Zimmerman-Izetbegovic meeting. Recognizing independence of a certain state, in itself as a process, is not something that happens spontaneously and quickly, especially due to the situation Bosnia and Herzegovina found itself in at that time. Given that it took the US administration less than ten days to make such a decision, implies that decision had already been made. US only awaited a suitable moment in order to make the decision public.

During a statement for Canadian CTVNews in 2012, former Canadian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, James Bissett, gave additional weight to earlier claims regarding Zimmerman’s role in the beginning of the Bosnian civil war. Namely, during the conversation, Bissett pointed out without hesitation that “the trigger was really when the American ambassador persuaded Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim leader in Bosnia, to renounce his signature and withdraw his signature from an agreement that had been reached earlier, negotiated by the Portuguese foreign minister…That meant that Bosnia could become independent, but there would be three autonomous regions. They all signed that, but my neighbor that lived across the street from me, Warren Zimmerman, the US ambassador convinced Alija Izetbegovic to renounce that agreement and declare unilateral independence, and that the United States would immediately recognize an independent Bosnia…”[6]

Events related to crisis in Kosmet followed a very similar pattern. Albanians in Kosovo served the interests of Washington in the same manner that Muslims did on the ground in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just as Muslims were promised support and independence of a state which they saw exclusively as their own, so the Albanians were, in essence, offered the opportunity to realize the idea of ​​a Greater Albania.

The August 1993 New York Times article, surprisingly professionally written, conveys the opinion of most US officials, who largely agree that Washington made a mistake in insisting on an independent and multicultural Bosnia and Herzegovina despite domestic leaders agreeing to divide the country. This view of the situation recently reappeared on the scene with the texts of Timothy Less, who proposes supporting the unification of the Republic of Srpska and Serbia as compensation for the recognition of independent Kosovo by Belgrade.[7][8]

Of course, Less looks at things from perspective of interests of the United States and expects Serbs, after American blessing of unification, to approach the United States and turn their backs on Moscow. Whether American diplomacy will accept these suggestion remains to be seen, but the fact that this option is being discussed at all should serve as a lesson to Serbian neighbors that in the last three decades they have not fought against Serbs so much for their own interests as they did for American ones.

As author stated earlier in the text, the Balkan problem of Washington, from the perspective of the United States, comes down to the question of Serbs. An illustration of this can be found in the New York Times article mentioned above. Namely, part of the article is dedicated to the statement of Warren Zimmerman, who, defending the earlier American policy, pointed out that “our view was that we might be able to head off a Serbian power grab by internationalizing the problem…Our hope was the Serbs would hold off if it was clear Bosnia had the recognition of Western countries. It turned out we were wrong.”[9]

Although a short statement, it is very indicative and leads to several important questions. If we take into account the nature of the Lisbon Treaty, which Ambassador Warren torpedoed during his conversation with Izetbegovic, why was the power takeover by the Serbs a problem? Moreover, since the territorial units envisaged by the Carrington-Cutilier plan were based on the national principle, Serbs, by taking power in their areas, would do the same as the other two groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand, why was the internationalization of the problem necessary? The problem was already, in large part, nearing a solution that was accepted by all three parties. Why were Serbs expected, almost by some kind of automatism, to give up their interests and demands in a situation where West recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina declaration of independence?

All these questions make sense and their answers are relatively obvious if we accept position that the moves of American diplomacy were not aimed at defusing the situation or achieving solution to crisis in BiH, but against the interests of Serbs. The language used by Zimmerman implies Serbs are the destabilizing factor and threat to the situation within the country at the time, despite all the facts to the contrary. The American vision of BiH, interpreted through Zimmerman’s statement, implied complete political domination of Sarajevo and the Muslim political leadership, a unitary state structure accompanied, for the sake of US internal propaganda, with labels of multiethnicity and multiculturalism. Serbs, and partly Croats, were expected to give up upon their own interests.

The irony of history is reflected in fact that the Dayton Agreement itself, which achieved peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was relatively similar to the Lisbon Agreement.

For a better understanding of American policy towards Serbs during the 1990s and after conflict in the former Yugoslavia ended, it is necessary to pay attention to the previously mentioned victorious ideology which, after collapse of the USSR, gained status of a globally applicable template for shaping societies.

Due to the specifics of American history, a thread of racial relations between the inhabitants of the United States always ran through American society. Over time, this led to the development of complexes which were twisted by the political forces in United States, particularly the Democratic Party, into political and social power simultaneously encompassing both white and black population. Within the Hollywood dichotomy of guilt, whites in the US were assigned the role of malfeasants while blacks, along with other minorities, became victims. The former developed a guilt complex while in the latter, victim complex was encouraged. In both cases, the encouragement of these complexes took extreme forms and was from the very beginning completely divorced from historical facts. Resistance to these processes did exist in the United States, and still exists today, but the foundation of the future American society was laid.

Multiculturalism, as one element of the new world order, introduced a whole range of other minorities into the previously outlined social formula, which mostly referred to the American population of European and African descent. New minorities encompassed both minorities based on their nation and groups that became minorities because of a particular characteristic, such as sexual orientation or a specific view of one’s own gender. The artificial multiplication of minorities led to a specific development of the earlier abuser-victim relationship, and soon, in opposition to white “malfeasants”, a mass of “victims” appeared, diverse in their minority status but monolithic in their role of victims.

Globalism, as one of the key elements of American ideology, transferred the insane perception of racial relations within the United States to the global level, predefining “good and bad guys” without taking into account the local context events or their development.

The European left, by its very nature inclined to such ideological ramshackle, and itself without an original idea, accepted this view of history and society, thus providing support to the Americanization of European nations. In his book “Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Towards a Secular Theocracy”, Paul Gottfried points out that “for the Left, especially in Europe, the post-Cold War United States is the enforcer of “antifascist” and multicultural ideas that are triumphing in American society and among its human-rights allies. The long-demonized American capitalist empire no longer upsets the European Left as monolithically as it once did…For the Left, at least until the recent war against terrorism, the United States has become an indispensable partner in promoting its work, against obstinate European nationalists and antiglobalists.”[10]

In the early 1990s, America was seen by leftists as a utopia. The combination of leftist ideas and predatory capitalism, intertwined with the image of an “exceptional nation”, led Washington’s aggressive stance on the global field. Anyone opposed to the cultural and economic aggression in question eventually faced a military aggression.

American leftists, who managed by “long march through institutions” to install their cadres within a large number of important positions both in American society and American political structure, recognized Serbs as historical actors perfectly fitting the constructed stereotype of “bad guys”. As a white nation, the stigma of “white guilt” could be immediately applied to them, only in this case the “oppressed minority” were not the blacks or other minority populations within the United States, but the Muslim population in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosmet. As a nation aware of its history and national identity, and interested in preserving both, Serbs commit the additional sin of reflexive suspicion towards globalism and resistance to the processes associated with this phenomenon.

The desire of Serbian people for existence within a homogeneous nation-state, derived from historical experience which confirmed the unstable and violent tendencies of heterogeneous societies, was interpreted as a rejection of the multicultural framework for social organization and was thus branded as unwelcomed. From the perspective of the American administration, regardless of historical facts and specific circumstances of events in former Yugoslavia, a multicultural society had to be insisted on. If multiculturalism can work in the United States, then it can work in small Balkan countries. However, if there was to exist a place in the world where it is objectively quite clear that multiculturalism is neither possible nor desirable, it would be only a matter of time before someone within the US questioned why were American politicians, on the domestic scene, so insistent on multiculturalism and why does this phenomenon becomes a taboo subject when its more negative characteristics become apparent.

Lessons from disintegration of multicultural “brotherhood and unity” within Yugoslavia have not been learned by the creators of American policy, and events within the United States today are the fruits of those missed historical lessons.

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow of the well known Cato Institute, during his testimony before the congressional committee in March 1999, clearly points out that there are no objective reasons for NATO intervention in Kosmet against Serbs and in favor of Albanians. In a transcript of Bandow’s statement, he explains that “despite the administration’s best intentions, its proposal to bomb Serbia and initiate a long‐​term ground occupation of Kosovo is misguided in the extreme. The administration would attempt to impose an artificial settlement with little chance of genuine acceptance by either side. It would attempt to micromanage a guerrilla conflict, likely spreading nationalistic flames throughout the region. It would involve America in an undeclared war against a nation which has not threatened the U.S. or any U.S. ally. It would encourage permanent European dependence on America to defend European interests with little relevance to America. It would turn humanitarianism on its head, basing intervention on the ethnicity of the victims, allied status of the belligerents, relative strength of the contending political interests, and expansiveness of the media coverage. Most important, it would put U.S. troops at risk without any serious, let alone vital, American interest at stake”.[11]

During his testimony, Bandow pointed out that NATO supporting KLA would only give additional impetus to the advocates of Greater Albania. Probably one of few American analysts from that period, Bandow warned involvement in the Balkans carried a risk of losing a much more important game related to Russia. Bandow emphasized that “Moscow’s future development remains worrisome and uncertain. Yet NATO attacks on and occupation of Yugoslavia, which shares longstanding Slavic ties with Russia, would exacerbate tensions already inflamed by the expansion of NATO”.[12]

Twenty years after the events in Kosmet, we live in a world that Bandow partially predicted. The aggression on Yugoslavia represented one of the turning points in Russian-American relations and influenced the shaping of the world as we know it today.

Support for a unitary Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Greater Albania project is undoubtedly present within American politics, given that planners in Washington recognize these projects as useful for their own interests. This is perhaps the most important reason for support. Serbophobia, as a derivative of Russophobia, exists within the American administration, but the question is to what extent does the phenomenon in question influences the shaping of Washington’s policies towards the Serbian people. Albanian politicians should have learned lessons from the history of Yugoslavia itself in the early 1990s. For a certain time, ex-Yugoslavia suited Americans and they supported its existence. As soon as the American interest changed, the US did not hesitate to take an active part in encouraging its disintegration. Even in the event where Albanian project is realized, it would be a creation with a limited lifespan. Formed with American blessing, Greater Albania would depend on the goodwill of “friends” from Washington and their backing.

In the treatise that made him famous, Niccolo Machiavelli points out that “auxiliary troops—armies borrowed from a more powerful state—are as useless as mercenaries. Although they often fight well, a prince who calls on auxiliaries places himself in a no-win situation. If the auxiliaries fail, he is defenseless, whereas if the auxiliaries are successful, he still owes his victory to the power of another.”[13]

This seems to be a lesson that none of the Serbian neighbors have learned. Today, Bosnia and Herzegovina is an international protectorate and a dysfunctional country. Croatia is a reservoir of labor reduced to the tourist destination of richer European countries, and at the beginning of the 2020, through intervention of the American military commander in political life of “independent” Kosovo, one could perceive real distribution of power on Kosmet. While Croats, Albanians and Muslims in Bosnia spent themselves in wars against “evil” Serbs, Western states imperceptibly placed a noose of economic and political dependence around their necks, all the while helping cultivate their victimhood narrative.

At this moment, the Serbian political leadership can act simultaneously in three directions. The first involves regional action towards countries also threatened by the idea of ​​a Greater Albania. This raises the question whether there is political will among potential allies to take steps against the realization of the Albanian idea in the current conditions where the emergence of a larger Albanian state affects only Serbian interests. The political mood in the countries in question will most likely depend on the escalation of Albanian ambitions and actions.

The second course of action is to reject any recognition of Kosovo as an independent state and to insist on such a position within international institutions. The work of Serbian diplomacy has been somewhat successful in this regard in recent years, but the work of diplomats must be supported by efforts to strengthen Serbian institutions and influence in Kosmet itself.

The third set of activities concerns efforts to undo, within a seemingly increasingly multipolar world order, the Western-imposed status quo in the Balkans, almost entirely ranged against Serbian interests. This would entail an initiative for reconsideration of events which took place during the break-up of former Yugoslavia and to, furthermore, question the final results of those events, such as Kosovo’s self-proclaimed independence or the narrative of alleged Serbian guilt for various war crimes.

The idea and narrative of Greater Albania are a danger to Serbian statehood, but the very idea of Greater Albania bears the seeds of its disappearance. The full realization of Albania’s pretensions entails the creation of a hostile disposition within four neighboring states. The project of the Albanian irredentists was previously realized only in conditions of serious foreign support. As is usually the case with a hegemon that is slowly losing its status, the United States is facing growing challenges around the world, and support for Albanian interests by Washington is not assured. At the moment, it seems that time is working for Belgrade, which should use this opportunity to full extent and cease to react reservedly for the sake of EU membership, an illusion by this point.

  1. http://www.kosovo.net/sk/rastko-kosovo/istorija/knjiga_o_kosovu/bogdanovic-kosovo_2.html 
  2. http://www.rastko.rs/cms/files/books/474e828f5a0ad 
  3. http://www.rastko.rs/cms/files/books/474e828f5a0ad 
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/jan/14/itstimetoendserbbashing 
  5. https://nationalinterest.org/print/article/obituary-alija-izetbegovic-1925-2003-2458 
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1QL1M8zycE 
  7. http://demostat.rs/en/vesti/analize/timothy-less-re-ordering-the-balkans/763 
  8. https://balkaninsight.com/2020/02/28/bosnias-second-collapse-is-starting-to-look-inevitable/ 
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/29/world/us-policymakers-on-bosnia-admit-errors-in-opposing-partition-in-1992.html 
  10. https://books.google.ba/books?id=0XvR-aKybuQC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false 
  11. https://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/us-role-kosovo 
  12. https://www.cato.org/publications/congressional-testimony/us-role-kosovo 
  13. https://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/prince/section6/ 

Serbia SITREP: Kosovo – the endless game

Serbia SITREP: Kosovo – the endless game

September 07, 2020

by Zoran Petrov for The Saker Blog

UPDATE!

Although I tried to predict possible outcomes from White House meeting, the results were more then a surprise! What is obvious from 2 (or 3 days) summit is that stakes of the actual three party meeting were different from those involving Belgrade-Pristina.

Thanks to coming presidential elections in US, Serbia managed to get some concessions that were impossible before (see images from proposed document as well documents signed by Albanians). But there was a price to pay for!

Vucic had rough ride in America mainly because he managed successfully to blackmail US counterparts.

From what is public information, we know that “mutual recognition” was off the proposed agreement. Despite “heroic” battles it is now clear, that “mutual recognition” was just a smoke screen that poor Pristina took it for real! The whole event was for Trump and it served his election campaign. Question of recognition of Jerusalem by the first EU country (Serbia) is important achievement for his evangelist and Jewish voters. Maybe this summit was ignored by major media but it was followed by religious TV and radio shows. The same is for Hezbollah issue.

Vucic paid humiliating price for taking advantage of situation (now famous sitting in the small chair in front of Trump) and blackmailing for changes in an agreement by stopping short of excluding Russia as supplier of gas and China from supplying 5G equipment to Serbia!

Another small revenge was change in text in regard to Jerusalem, by US side that caught Vucic by surprise when Trump announced it on press conference.

What we don´t know is what was real discussion between two delegations, especially between Vucic and Pompeo? What we know for sure, thanks to Vucic lapsus, that there were discussion about who will control sky above Kosovo. After NATO occupation of Kosovo, NATO controlled airspace above Kosovo. That space is divided in upper layer (above 8700 meters) and lower one (up to 8700 meters). In 2014 NATO transferred the authority to control the upper layer to the Hungarian Flight Control. It seems that Serbia was trying to get that control from NATO but obviously talks are not concluded yet. It is of paramount importance to mention that Serbia will, based on this agreement get rail access to deep water port in Albania (Durres -Serbia unsuccessfully tried to purchase port in Bar, Montenegro some years ago). It seems that interesting times are coming!

Serbia SITREP: Kosovo – the endless game

Serbia SITREP: Kosovo – the endless game

August 15, 2020

by Mavro Orbini for The Saker Blog

Although expected, call for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue at White House on 2nd of September[1] is suddenly getting on importance after Trump administration masterpieced (unexpected) Israeli-UAE Peace Deal.[2] It seems that US diplomatic coupe is on the way just before US presidential elections. Trump sent letters in 2018 and 2019 to Belgrade and Pristina urging them to reach a “historic accord” for a “comprehensive peace” that would include as its central element “mutual recognition”! [3] What did change from the first cancelled meeting between US mediator Grenel with Serbian/Kosovo parties on 27/08 and one that is just scheduled? Based on Vučic complain that Grenel announced negotiation while he expected talks on economic normalization, it seems that Trump administration is quite serious in its attempt to solve this Balkan dispute for good!

Maybe that was information conveyed by Lavrov to Vučić during June meeting? Vučić was pretty grim during press conference later on. Visit of FM of Russia Lavrov to Belgrade in June might brought warning note to President Vučić as opposition media and politicians claimed (such public statement or warning would be quite undiplomatic from grandmaster of Russia´s diplomacy!). That warning note made it clear that “Kremlin would only support solutions to the Kosovo question acceptable to Belgrade and approved by the UN Security Council.”[4] That note was also directed toward EU and US that there are two inseparable locks for which EU, US and Vučić should find keys. Even if they come to some agreement, on the end of that process is UN Security Council that will ultimately decide on the future of possible agreement.

So where are we?

Over 20 years there were several proposals on the table and the process of negotiation has clearly two phases:

1. Period from 2000-2012 marked Pristina success on all fronts! Everything went smoothly – in 2008 Pristina declared independence from Serbia, in 2010 the International Court of Justice issued its opinion which found that Kosovo’s declaration of independence “did not violate international law”[5] and finally Serbia, with a gun at its head, signed with Pristina on April 2013 Brussels agreement that was an inch from full recognition of Kosovo as sovereign state! Serbia was, then, weak after 12 years of full economic destruction (forced but uncontrolled, wild privatization that first of all, completely destroyed the most important parts of its industry). At that point, it resembled situation of August in 1995 when ethnically cleansing of 250 000 native Serb by Croatia did not gathered more then few thousands protestors in Belgrade! In 2013 population of Serbia was demoralized, with low income, without any hope for better future. It was right moment to force Serbia to recognize independence of Kosovo without any fear of possible public backlash or violent riots against selling of “cradle of Serbia”! By some divine intervention it did not happen! That divine intervention was brought new hardline government in Pristina that wanted to further humiliate Serbia…

2. Period from 2013 to present day marked stalemate that did not work well for Pristina. Suddenly from dead end Serbia, bit by bit, opened up more and more space to try to save what is possible to save. More then dozen of countries, cleverly motivated by Serbia, withdrew their recognition of Kosovo as a state. Kosovo did not get any new recognition (at the moment, at most 92 countries recognize independence of Kosovo). Serbia managed to block several attempts of Kosovo for acceptance at UNESCO, Interpol, etc. Those were painful moments for politicians in Pristina that provoked many irrational decisions that did not serve them well. Most importantly, for the first time Serbia did manage to break monolith Pristina political elites into conflicting parties. It was cleverly done by rising issues that divided Pristina political parties. One of those issues was floating of idea for swap of territories. On Albanian side, eager for such solution was Hashim Thaci[6], president of “Kosovo” and Democratic Party of Kosovo, at the moment indicted for war crimes. That started intra Albanian infighting between Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj[7], then PM of “Kosovo”, president of Alliance for the future of Kosovo, also indicted war criminal that was released from Hague due to lack of witnesses against him (more then 20 of them killed by unidentified executioners). That turmoil was also evident between EU and US making rift in, until then, unified front against Serbia. Another rift between Albanian political parties on Kosovo just surfaced, few days ago, when parliament in Pristina rejected proposed legislation which was intended to enshrine in law support for the Kosovo Liberation Army’s wartime values[8]. For the first time we have civilian political parties having majority in voting over ex- KLA veteran political parties. It is fair to expect that these infightings will serve confronting EU and US interests so at the end of the day Serbia also might have some benefit from it?

What is on the table for negotiation?

SERBIA WILL NEVER RECOGNISE KOSOVO!

It is clear from election in 2000 of the first government of Serbia (after demise of Milosevic) that no prime minister or president of Serbia was willing to sign declaration of independence for Kosovo! Even the most West leaning ruling parties declined to do it. Especially from 2012 until today, ruling party SNS and its supportive media persistently fueled public opinion that there is no way to recognize independence Kosovo! Even that there will be referendum that will decide instead of politicians. No compromise on Kosovo issue is presented every day in many newspapers, TV and radio stations inclining toward ruling party! Today, public outcry would be much louder then in 2012 in case of independence of Kosovo!

SERBIA WILL RECOGNIZE KOSOVO!

It is clear that Serbia is ready to recognize Kosovo but not what is considered Kosovo today, not its territory, nor its independence! Serbia’s political elite knows that it was wrong to incorporate the whole territory of Kosovo (today when speaking of Kosovo it includes two regions Kosovo and Metohija for simplicity) into Serbia in 1912! Unlike Metohija, Kosovo had parts without single Serb and for many years Serbia did not enter its, these de facto, territories![9]

In the last 20 years there were several suggested models for resolution of this conflict:

1. Nebojša Čović , Serbian vice PM, proposed in 2001 that two entities, a Serbian and an Albanian, be established on Kosovo and Metohija. The Serbian entity would be under the protection of the Yugoslav Army and police, while the Albanian entity would have the highest grade of autonomy and stay under the protection of international powers.

2. In 2002, Serbian PM Zoran Đinđić stated that “Serbia has neither the mechanism nor the resources to reintegrate Kosovo into its legal system, or to create a form in which it will be under its sovereignty. The division of the province, therefore, is nothing else than an attempt to rescue what can still be saved.”[10]

3. It seems that in 2008 Slobodan Samardžić, Minister for Kosovo and Metohija, proposed partitioning Kosovo along ethnic lines, asking the UN to ensure that Belgrade can control key institutions and functions in areas where Serbs form a majority[11]. Existence of such proposal was strongly denied by then Serbian government.

4. In 2011 and in 2014, Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dačić proposed the partition of Kosovo as a solution to the Kosovo dispute.[12]

5. Hashim Thaci, president of “Kosovo” was eager for swap of territories with Serbia – taking south part of Serbia in exchange of northern Serbian enclave in Kosovo[13]

6. Special US envoy for Kosovo, Richard Grenel, dropped Molotov cocktail in June 2020 announcing plans “to create a “little mini-Shenzhen zone” between Kosovo-Serbia”![14] It was immediately dismissed by experts and international community, making laughing stock of illiterate Americano who actually meant mini Schengen!? Grenel never corrected himself and Vučić, in above mention reaction, that he ” expected talks on economic normalization not negotiation…” maybe confirms accuracy of Grenel statement?

Economic model of Shenzhen zone for Kosovo is the only viable option for this criminally infested region! Only rapid and from outside directed economic reconstruction gives hope for better future to young generations of local Albanians. Of course, it is difficult to see how part of political elite with background in drug and human organ trafficking could have any say in such process. For that reason it is of great importance recent distancing in Pristina parliament from KLA veterans and its past. It is time for clean start with new people!

But economic model must be followed by political one that will appease political aspirations of political elites of Pristina but also take in account political limitations of their political colleagues in Belgrade. Maybe this is where, otherwise unproductive, EU mandarins could come onboard with a modified

Cyprus model – despite joining the EU as a de facto divided island, the whole of Cyprus is EU territory. Turkish Cypriots who have, or are eligible for, EU travel documents are EU citizens. EU law is suspended in areas where the Cypriot government (Government of the Republic) does not exercise effective control. Cyprus has two official languages: Greek and Turkish; only Greek is an official EU language[15]

That offer on the table, as one of the (best) possible scenarios is an offer to Serbia for quick accession to EU together with Kosovo. Kosovo will have own state that will through Serbia be part of EU and their citizens will enjoy all privileges of other EU citizens. From black hole it will be place for booming economic development. Albanian side in Pristina was reminded who rules in Kosovo when US/Turkish solders invited and patrolled together with Serbian gendarmerie. Despite their protests, KFOR (mostly NATO) announced that such event was in accordance with UN 1244 resolution (that affirms Serbian sovereignty over Kosovo) and Kumanovo agreement with Serbian government (that Serbia has right to send up to 1000 soldiers to Kosovo)!!!

Of course, all experiences so far tells us that it is rational to expect irrational outcome and that we might go back to partition table of Kosovo! Serbian negotiation party will have eyes wide open on outcome of election in Montenegro on 30th of August! That outcome will be closely related with territories that Belgrade will demand. Bear in mind that Vučić, so far, although mentioned border correction, never said that Serbia wants (only) Serbian enclave in the North of Kosovo. Other eye and hand will embrace Republika Srpska without any doubt. Serbian public is prepared for such outcome as well. White house meeting has all potentials for great resolve but then again seeing faces of Lavrov and Vučić in June…

Mavro Orbini

  1. https://europeanwesternbalkans.com/2020/08/14/grenell-announces-meeting-between-kosovo-and-serbia-leaders-on-2-september/ 
  2. http://thesaker.is/israeli-uae-peace-deal-marks-tectonic-shift-in-middle-eastern-balance-of-power/ 
  3. https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/24/kosovo-serbia-summit-white-house-catastrophe-balkans-peace-process/ 
  4. https://www.rferl.org/a/russia-serbia-kosovo-lavrov-grenell/30679106.html 
  5. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-serbia-kosovo/kosovo-independence-declaration-deemed-legal-idUSTRE66L01720100722 
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashim_Tha%C3%A7i 
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramush_Haradinaj 
  8. https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2040085412775/kosovo-mps-fail-to-pass-law-to-protect-klas-values 
  9. http://www.kosovo.net/sk/rastko-kosovo/istorija/sanu/map3.html 
  10. https://www.blic.rs/vesti/politika/moguca-podela-kim-u-dve-faze/fc68tv0 
  11. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/24/world/europe/24iht-kosovo.4.11380269.html 
  12. https://web.archive.org/web/20110516154348/http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics-article.php?yyyy=2011&mm=05&dd=15&nav_id=74342 
  13. https://exit.al/en/2020/06/09/kosovos-president-and-ambassador-lobbied-for-land-swap-deal-with-serbia-birn-reports/ 
  14. https://exit.al/en/2020/06/23/us-envoy-grenell-wants-special-economic-zone-between-kosovo-and-serbia/ 
  15. https://ec.europa.eu/cyprus/about-us/turkish-cypriots_en 

Balkan Report: The Macedonian Powder Keg Set To Go Off

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by Stephen Karganovic for The Saker Blog

The way things are shaping up down south (viewed from Belgrade) the tiny, helpless, beleaguered new Balkan state of Macedonia could be the trigger for a wider regional conflict. It is well to remember the adage of veteran politician Franklin Delano Roosevelt, especially in the present context: If it turned out a certain way, it is probably because that is the way it was planned.

If the stage is indeed being set for a new Balkan conflagration, many signs suggest that Macedonia has been assigned a key role in the process leading up to it. Slightly under two years ago, Guaido’s Balkan precursor, Zoran Zaev, was promoted by non-Macedonian interests to unconstitutionally replace the less compliant but democratically elected long-time stooge Nikola Gruevski as prime minister. Procedural niceties were brutally cast aside when Macedonia’s Western masters concluded that Gruevski was getting too many independent policy ideas and that letting him remain in office was therefore risky. In a ruthless, Kiev 2014-style coup, coordinated from the embassies of all the usual suspects, Gruevski was unceremoniously ousted. (By a remarkable coincidence, ambassador Jeffrey Pyatt, of Kiev fame, is now accredited to the neighboring Greek government and undoubtedly supervises these affairs from his Athens command post.) Usurper Zaev was promptly installed, though lacking the required parliamentary majority and in disregard of president Djordje Ivanov’s strong initial refusal to officially appoint him. But that did not matter in Armenia, why should it now in Macedonia?

The masters’ game plan was soon revealed. One objective was to make sure that the Russian pipeline’s passage through strategically located Macedonia would be permanently blocked with the cooperation of a reliable lackey. The other items on the agenda consisted of (1) rearranging the internal political balance of power to overtly favor the aggressive and Western-supported Albanian minority, laying the foundations for Macedonia’s violent Yugoslav-style, ethnically driven breakup at some point, and (2) getting Macedonia into NATO and shoring up NATO’s southern front by “settling” the name dispute with Greece, also to be accomplished to Macedonia’s disadvantage.

Zaev’s first order of business was to implement the so-called “Tirana platform,” an agreement he reached with Macedonia’s Albanian minority while still a private citizen. (He is obviously lucky that Macedonia does not have anything like the Logan Act.) Significantly, the agreement involving the de facto federalization of the tiny country and the granting of extensive privileges to a foreign-backed minority within it, was negotiated by Zaev in the Albanian capital of Tirana. No one seems to be quite sure how many ethnic Albanians there exactly are in Macedonia, any more than it is known for certain how many of them reside in neighboring Kosovo. They are alleged to constitute a respectable 25 to 30 % of Macedonia’s population. But questioning that allegation or subjecting it to empirical verification is actively discouraged. As a result, the western, most densely Albanian- populated portion of Macedonia contiguous with Albania itself has now been turned into a state-within-a-state where native Macedonians enjoy a status similar to that of Indians in the US. The Albanian language has been made official alongside Macedonian and one may assume that smart and farsighted people in Skopje, who get their cues from the embassies that are running the country, are now busy taking Albanian lessons.

Zaev’s second major “achievement” was to negotiate an end to the Macedonian name dispute with his Greek colleague, equally contemptuous of popular sentiment, the perfidious phony socialist Alexis Tsipras. Since Macedonia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, Greece has strongly objected to the country’s name, asserting that “Macedonia” is a Greek copy-righted geographical and historical concept, that Alexander the Great was Greek not Skopje-Macedonian, and all the rest of it, typical Balkan stuff that most readers would probably find utterly boring. The name dispute, however, got hundreds of thousands of people quite excited and demonstrating vociferously on both sides of the border.

It was important therefore to settle, or to at least paper over this issue to make NATO’s southern flank reasonably united in anticipation of the impending big war in the East. The analogy with the geopolitical situation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, when its politicians were cajoled into signing off on the Axis pact, and Macedonia’s today, with its accession to NATO, is striking. And yes, Macedonia was “rewarded” for changing its name not just by being generously accepted into NATO, but also with the privilege of being targeted by Russian missiles should hostilities break out in the future.

NATO flag already adorns government offices of “North Macedonia”

Should anyone be wondering why until just a few days ago Macedonia was known by the clumsy and ridiculous acronym FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) it was because of Greece’s refusal to countenance any other label. The need to form a united front against Russia’s “malign influence” in the Balkans now clearly superseds such puerile nonsense. Orders were issued to both puppets from on high to kiss and make up, which they dutifully did, of course.

Incidentally, Macedonia’s new official name of North Macedonia, which Wikipedia has already hastened to duly acknowledge, is rather underwhelming from the standpoint of idiomatic English. “Northern” would have sounded better, a detail that was not lost on the linguistically savvier Turkish partners when they were setting up their own satellite entity, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, on the part of the island that they occupy.

So, the stage now seems to be set to plunge North Macedonia in a conflict its people clearly do not want, and to demolish it either by igniting ethnic warfare or making it disappear in a nuclear conflagration, whatever happens to suit global decisionmakers the best. I consulted my trusted Macedonian (I will not insult him by adding “North” to his sufficiently humiliated country’s cherished name) friend and local contact, journalist Milenko Nedelkovski, for his assessment of his country’s current situation.

First things first, I asked him about the current status of his widely watched, influential, notoriously patriotic, and therefore obviously politically misaligned television talk show and whether he was getting any heat from the new “democratic and Western-values” oriented authorities.

His response could not have been more dispiriting:

“Both the present-day authorities and the opposition which until two years ago ruled the country are under the command of the US Embassy in Skopje and ambassador Jess Baily. This is our 14th season. Three years ago, the American embassy ordered my show to be taken off the air by all television broadcasters. It was cancelled twice by TV Channel 5 and three times by Channel Alpha. Both broadcasters have a nation-wide frequency. We are being harassed by absolutely everyone. That is why I am posting my program on Facebook and YouTube. There, for the moment, we are not facing any restrictions and the viewing audience now exceeds anything we ever had in the traditional media.”

Considering that in the period preceding the degrading Zaev – Tsipras name change agreement mass demonstrations opposing it were being held throughout Macedonia, I asked Milenko why people seem suddenly to have given up in the face of the quisling fait accompli.

“The people have not suddenly gone quiet. Repression is such that the ordinary citizen is afraid. He is now articulating his anger through the social media and by boycotting presidential elections. At the moment in Macedonia, civil disobedience is the principal tool of resistance. And if by ‘going quiet’ is meant that the people are no longer out in the streets, that is because the opposition VMRO party is also collaborating with the American-Brussels occupiers, so they are not calling on the people to protest.”

Given the dismal conditions Milenko described, I asked him what the chances are for kicking the rascals out in the next elections.

His answer was: “Non-existent. In April we are due to have presidential elections the honesty of which is very dubious. Ballot boxes will be stuffed, there will be coercion… But under no circumstances will there be anything resembling an honest vote. And the result, of course, will be endorsed by the ‘international community’ as a great victory for democracy.”

My Macedonian informant’s answer to the question of what future he sees for Macedonia if the appeasement of the Albanian factor continues was most unsettling. These are his dark visions:

“Not just the future of Macedonia as a unified country, but the future of all of former Yugoslavia will be uncertain. The Albanians will press relentlessly their Greater Albania project. In practice that means the disintegration of Macedonia as we know it, but also the reduction of Serbia to the territory of the Belgrade district (пашалук) during the period of Ottoman rule. Kosovo and the southern areas of Serbia will be detached, and other parts of the country, around Novi Pazar for instance, might also be snatched away from Serbia. Bosnia will not remain in its present shape and within the present borders. Montenegro will also be required to sacrifice territories to the Greater Albania project. Some littoral and even inland areas will no longer form part of Milo Djukanovic’s little kingdom. The redrawing of borders in the Balkans at the expense of the Orthodox nations, including some Greek lands to which the Albanians aspire, is certain to occur. The only hope for us Orthodox is a large-scale international conflict, which might be sparked off by something that happens in Venezuela, the Kerch Strait, Eastern Ukraine, Syria, Kaliningrad, or North Korea, the consequences of which would be so grave as to cause the US to lose interest in interfering in other nations’ affairs. Things will get better for us when they stop supporting unconditionally the Albanian factor in the Balkans and the Albanian mafia world-wide.”

It could, of course, be said that Milenko’s remedy is worse than the disease. But this compelling cri de coeur, by a well informed and intelligent observer from the heart of the Balkan darkness that proud NATO (and who knows, perhaps soon even EU) candidate “North Macedonia” has been turned into, certainly ought not to be ignored.

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