International friends become fewer by the day

Diplomats and Kosovo’s friends made humanitarian intervention inevitable, but the post-war political elite’s behavior raises the question of whether it was worth it.

Measured by the voices that spoke about Kosovo in real time, the massacre in Recak, Kosovo became almost as well known as the one in Srebrenica, Bosnia, although the extent of the atrocities differed substantially.

Decades later, unlike Srebrenica, Kosovo might have dulled international voices, but not for the better.

Despite being tragedies of different dimensions, anniversaries of the Srebrenica massacre are mentioned by diplomats and the international media months prior, whereas massacres like Recak are talked about less and less.

The only one who continues the tradition of commemorating the event is its denouncer: in this case, former American ambassador and head of the Kosovo Verification Mission, William Walker.

From the time when the voices of diplomats and Kosovo’s friends made humanitarian intervention inevitable, the post-war political elite turned it into something that often raises the question of whether or not it was worth it.

Kosovo does not continue to have protective voices in Western chancelleries. London’s George Robertson is not there anymore, Robin Cook passed away. In France, the time of Hubert Vedrine and Bernard Kouchner has passed, and Ismail Kadare’s friends are old or departed. Messimo D’Alema will not return to Italy; former Dutch Member of the European Parliament Joost Lagendijk has long left the scene; Vaclav Havel from the Czech Republic is not here either. Germany does not anymore have the model of Jorka Fischer, who was covered in red paint by his fellow party members during the apex of the NATO bombings on Serbian military points in 1999 because, as a ‘green’, he supported the military campaign against Serbia. Only Ulrike Lunacek is left in Austria, who is fighting to keep Kosovo on the EU’s agenda. Her fight is not unlike Don Quixote’s war against the windmills. All by her lonesome!

It could get worse. The next elections for the European Parliament will be held in 2019. Lunacek might not run or may not get a seat if she does. The seat might go to someone who has no idea where Kosovo is.

As far as the United States of America go, we thanked them by naming and electing MPs, ambassadors and mayors that were on their ‘black list’ when Kosovo gained freedom. The friendship with the U.S. has been used only internally to assert that Washington has Kosovo’s back, although messages from the U.S. have often been joked about openly. Candidates usually took advantage of this support during elections.

In 2010, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered an address in Kosovo’s assembly and mentioned what local leaders can and should do to relieve Kosovo from political inertia and economic downfall.

“You have to privatize the PTK [the Post and Telecommunications of Kosovo], because economic reforms of such are necessary to cement the democratic transition of Kosovo and to fight endemic corruption in the country,” Clinton said.

None of her advice was followed in Kosovo.

Vice President Joe Biden’s words from last year also shared the same fate. “I want you to sign a deal with Montenegro. You need to push some reforms forward. Kosovo’s political class and society need to fight corruption and organized crime, which are cancers of society.”

International friends neither became a political aim to strengthen relations nor a national interest. Different political clans continue to claim exclusive support from the international community.

The bitter reality is that this approach came crashing down on Kosovo at the UNESCO vote, where some countries who recognized Kosovo, namely Poland, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and Latvia, refused to support it.

Friends do not fall from the skies. The disappearing caste of international friends came to Kosovo during the war. They were friends during our time of need and through their humane principles found sympathy for Kosovars when they saw us barefooted and unprotected among the Kosovo mountains and border crossings.

When the time was right to seal new friendships, local political leaders were more interested in usurping positions and public boards, appointing people whose CVs include hanging up posters during electoral campaigns.

Kosovo’s diplomatic service was not seen as an attempt to strengthen the image of the country that needed to establish a new elite of dedicated people for the country. Kosovo’s embassies turned into machineries of nepotism that rather generated scandals and shamefulness in European capitals. In order to show the scale of the usurpation of public positions, Kosovo authorities kept two consuls with the same position in the same Swiss canton for almost a year. The mandate of the first consul had expired but he did not want to move an inch and no one in Prishtina cared about the impact that it could have for the state image.

The art of Kosovo’s diplomacy for making new friends outside its borders was drowned by this spirit.

Kosovo is not the same as it was when it had the support from emblematic diplomats when “it was possible and necessary.”

This isolated and almost hopeless country is almost entirely engulfed in a black cloud. Kosovo is not anymore the place where diplomats talk about massacred children. With so many years having passed, the friends should be proud with “Kosovo, a state” project.  Instead we have the image of governing political gangs who are inept and corrupt and who might be responsible for war crimes, ethnic cleansing, rape and political murders.

The world is not a political swampland like it is here. In the world, a lot of water moves quickly underneath the bridge!


17 January 2017 - 09:48

Serbeze Haxhiaj

17/01/2017 - 09:48

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.