Illustration by Jeta Dobranja/Trembelat.

If Kosovo were to be partitioned…

Falling for discussions of Kosovo’s potential partition means we’re playing Belgrade’s game. Such a trap would have Kosovo lose much more than a couple municipalities in the north.

Alright, but what if Serbia makes it to the river of… hmm, the name escapes, me, yes, Ibar, right! If they set foot there, then the rest of Kosovo gains the right to join Albania.

I just paraphrased a Tirana pundit who said this on television a few days ago. He is not alone in this conviction. There are other political analysts in Tirana (and loafers in Kosovo) who, with unimaginable ease, take on the role of the national geodesist: here we have the ruler, Serbs on that side, Albanians on the other, they take northern Mitrovica, we claim Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, including all the other villages where the dulcet Albanian language is spoken, and afterwards we set the border from Kumanovo to Ohrid, now we have ethnic Albania – and for seaside tourism we go Ulcinj, the Great Beach naturally. This is also a way to talk about politics if, understandably, you do not want to be taken seriously.

Can Kosovo be partitioned? The world has seen many things that were considered unthinkable. Donald Trump made it to the White House, Hillary Clinton lost to him, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union broke apart and, for over a decade, Germany has been governed by a scientist from eastern Germany. Consequently, Kosovo could also be partitioned. But, should it be partitioned?

Serbia has been looking for a partner to support this project for years. The most vocal is Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s Foreign Minister and former spokesman for the dictator Slobodan Milosevic. He complains on the media that “the Albanian party” (meaning the Kosovo delegation at the EU-mediated dialogue in Brussels between Kosovo and Serbia) is refusing to talk about this subject because it is frightened of the international community.

In order to keep the subject of the partition in the news, Belgrade attempted to caress Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s ego, treating him as “the father of the Albanian nation.” Serbia conducted this type of experiment with quasi-Albanian Esad Pashe Toptani (translator’s note: the third prime minister of Albania, who is viewed by many Albanians as a traitor after signing the Treaty of Serbian-Albanian alliance in 1914). Luckily, Rama is not a traitor and does not seem to be as stupid as Toptani. His silence following the latest provocation by Serbia with the nationalist train shows that he now desperately understands that he was abused by Dacic (who sang him a song for his birthday) and Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s prime minister, (who toured him from Nis to Belgrade in business conferences, while the actual point was to open the Albanian market to as many Serbian products as possible).

Until now, Albanian politicians in Prishtina have not uttered a word about partition because they had a reason. The state of Kosovo is not only a project of Kosovo Albanians, but also that of the Western international community. As a result, the international factor has to be consulted before the project can be altered. Because of the aftermath of the communist regime and the brutal transition to democracy, Albania was not able to play an essential role in Kosovo’s independence. It did what it could within its possibilities, always respecting the Western agenda for Kosovo.

Can political pundits and journalists partition Kosovo? No. But, they can add fuel to the fire, exacerbate the crisis and add to the tense situation. If they think that this is how a short Serbian-Albanian conflict will be triggered and then the borders will be set according to the liking of Prishtina and Tirana, because “as licenced victims” we will have the support of NATO, the United States, Germany, Great Britain, the Inuit, and essentially the West as a whole, then they’re making a grave error.

These kinds of hopes can be kept alive by people who have not followed recent global developments, those who speculate that if Vladimir Putin eyes Kosovo, Donald Trump will deploy tens of military divisions, brigades and units to protect Kosovo. The latest issue of the German magazine Der Spiegel can teach us a lot about how the geopolitical tides have shifted. They cite two of Angela Merkel’s advisors who have met members of Trump’s team multiple times in the last few months, and who desperately reported to Berlin that the new administration has no clue about Europe, does not esteem NATO (apart from some relieving words from the new Secretary of Defense who formerly served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation). This is an administration of businessmen who are interested in business.

As long as the international community does not favor any border changes in the Balkans, Albanians can only play Belgrade’s game. And afterwards they will lose more than just two or three municipalities in northern Kosovo. What will the ruler-bearing pundits and national geodesists say then? Belgrade is not asking to partition Kosovo for altruistic reasons, but to then initiate the destruction Bosnia and Herzegovina, another international project. Why would we care about what happens in Bosnia? This is a question a pundit would ask. The more accurate question would be: why should we be the cause for Serbia to start the project of creating Greater Serbia upon receiving signals from Albanians to partition Kosovo?

As with games, conflicts also have to have at least two parties. The aggravated situation in Kosovo mobilizes the nationalist electorate in Serbia before the presidential elections in April and can create conditions for an uprising of the Serbs in northern Kosovo, which would revive the topic of territorial separation. Paradoxically, the interest for escalation is also shared by some leading members of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, PDK, who have had a tough time these past months due to the fear that they might be indicted by the Specialist Chambers for war crimes. Notice the false sincerity in Hashim Thaci’s speech these days as compared to before. For years as prime minister and now as president, he boasted that he gave the order for police intervention in the North on July 25, 2011 and, according to him, restored the full sovereignty of Kosovo in that part. The fact that the action was carried out without the knowledge of the director of the police involving units that were technically and professionally unprepared for such an operation is well-known. Now, Thaci is accepting that Kosovo has no sovereignty in the north, but is talking about armed Serbs and is accusing Serbia of arming them. If this is the case, what have Kosovo authorities done in the last five years to consolidate the sovereignty that, according to Thaci, was restored on July 25, 2011? What have they been negotiating for six years in Brussels?

Considering all the events that have occurred these past days, Kosovo Albanians naturally have to be prepared to protect their republic, but they should in no way fall for the traps of politicians and believe in the conjectures of pundits. The price will neither be paid by politicians, nor by irresponsible journalists, as they have not paid in March of 2004. The price back then was paid by the citizens.

27 January 2017 - 15:04

Enver Robelli

27/01/2017 - 15:04