The issue of Kosovo and the land swap has sank deep into the mud as a result of the negative way Europe took it. The presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci respectively, along with those who expressed this perspective for a definitive solution to the issue, were faced with obstacles raised by Berlin and Moscow.
The border issue – Europe, the U.S.A., Russia and the … “dependencies”
While there were many who believed that the revision of the U.S. policy on Kosovo would give new impetus to efforts to find a definitive solution, Europe showed that it remained clinging to stereotypes and policies of hypocrisy that did not favour any development.
Of course, this is not a new element in European practice with regard to the Yugoslav question and its solution. Europe’s incompetence has led to the U.S. playing the role it has played in the Balkans when the breakup of socialist Yugoslavia began. In the past, the catalytic intervention of the U.S. -in Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo- was fine with Europe because it served its interests.
The principle of the non-change of borders, which is now being invoked in Berlin, in order to reject the proposal for land exchange in Kosovo, had used as it pleased Germany. The right of self-determination applied to the Albanians, but it did not apply to Serbs in Krajina (Croatia) or Bosnia. It is, therefore, nothing more than hypocritical on Berlin’s part, to reject, any agreed border change, today, whereas in the past it was actively welcoming any violent cross-border change that was taking place in former Yugoslavia.
Even accepting the explanation that it was a border of federal republics that had the right to secession, Kosovo is a different case on its own, because it constituted an administrative autonomous area of Serbia.
The German “No”…
Today, Angela Merkel says “Nein” (“no”) to the border change in Kosovo, fearing that such a development will create a precedent that could also be used in the cases of Bosnia, fYROMacedonia and, perhaps, other regions of Europe.
Merkel’s refusal was expressed unequivocally when European Parliament’s rapporteur on Serbia, David McAllister, following his visit to Belgrade and Pristina, asked her to revise her position and accept the compromise if Vucic and Thaci reach an agreement at last.
Blic newspaper in Belgrade, relying on German diplomatic sources, reveals that Merkel is now more reluctant to face this possibility after the failure of the referendum in fYROMacedonia. According to the same sources, what the German Chancellor is afraid of is that, political instability in Skopje, may also have ethnic characteristics, and believes that the re-launch of the Kosovo issue would not be favoured.
The solution, in the direction of the change of borders, is rejected by Merkel for another reason (too), which has to do with Bosnia.
Whatever border change might occur, will encourage the Bosnian Serb leadership to seek its secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina and its annexation by Serbia, Berlin estimates. The fluidity and uncertainty prevailing in Skopje and in Bosnia and Herzegovina -where this climate is now further boosted after Milorad Dodik’s election to the tripartite presidency of the country- forces Merkel to stick to (her) “Nein” in every proposal linked with border change and Kosovo.
… and its Russian reinforcement with Putin’s “Het”
Another superpower that dislikes and this idea while it also objects to it, is Russia. According to reports by the Russian and Serbian press while the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic was on a visit to Moscow the previous week, Russian President Vladimir Putin did not give his consent to the proposal of a land swap, that could resolve the Kosovo issue.
Russian newspaper Kommersant reveals that Putin has said “Net” (“no”) to Vucic’s request that Russia should support such a solution if it reaches the UN Security Council, at the initiative of China. That is why Vucic, after his talks with his Russian counterpart at the Kremlin, said that as far it concerns him, the issue in question is over since it did not carry the way it was expected it would.
In part of the Serbian press there have been reports that Russia is opposed to the partition of Kosovo, which would leave much of the Serbian population outside Serbia, as well as the historic temples and monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC).
Hashim Thaci (L) of Kosovo and Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia give each other a handshake in front of Federica Mogherini
Political analysts in Belgrade estimate that Kosovo is the main reason that forces Serbia to be “tied up” onto the Russian “chariot”. If the issue of Kosovo is resolved, there will be no reason for Belgrade to keep proclaiming unswerving loyalty to Moscow. In addition, Russia will no longer be able to use Serbia as a slit in the Balkans in its confrontation with the West.
By and large, this is the reason why the U.S. has been implementing a different policy in the past five months, also showing understanding of the Serbian positions. Washington, apparently, sees that the strongest link between Russia and Serbia is Kosovo and is trying to “break” it, seeking a final solution to the problem that would also satisfy Belgrade.
At the same time, it seems that Serbia still have piled up stock of sympathy towards Russia. Nationalist circles, the so-called patriotic media, and especially the Church, systematically undermine any attempt to find a compromising solution to the Kosovo matter, facilitating Moscow’s pursuit to perpetuate this deeply problematic situation…. / IBNA
Main Photo (File): German Chancellor, Angela Merkel meets Russian President, Vladimir Putin