The basis and prerequisite of any successful politics in the 21st century is economic strength. Only economically powerful countries can have a meaningful foreign policy. For decades, Serbia has had incapable governments that were unable to take care of their own citizens, not to mention anybody else’s.
Serbia will never recognize Kosovo independence’ is a mantra, not a policy. This is running away from responsibility and amounts to procrastination. Nobody is asking us to recognize Kosovo independence. Why is our government constantly bombarding Serbian citizens with this sentence, then? Prime Minster’s whining how he did not sleep a wink while the decision about Kosovo’s acceptance into UNESCO was being made is not a policy. It is a theatrical play, hypocrisy and, worst of all – a complete lie. The very same Prime Minister signed the agreement in Brussels which obligates Serbia not to object to Kosovo membership in international institutions. Did he suffer a sudden amnesia attack?
How come that it never occurred to our Prime Minister to make an issue of jurisdiction over Serbian cultural heritage, our churches, monasteries, cultural monuments, before he signed those agreements? For example, before he signed the agreement about separate telephone code for Kosovo, or energy resources? Why did he submit to them before the issue of cultural heritage was resolved? The time for resolution of that issue was back then, and not now, after all other agreements have already been signed. If we have resolved that issue, the question of jurisdiction over our cultural monuments and Kosovo UNESCO membership would not worry us at all. Why would we have a problem with some Kosovo cultural institution taking care of Albanian cultural monuments?
Instead of sticking our head in the sand, let us look at facts.
Kosovo and Metohija territory legally became part of Serbian state after Balkan wars, via international contract. Kingdom of Yugoslavia populated Kosovo and Metohija between the two world wars. My own grandfather moved from Montenegro to Dečani region during 1920s. My father was born there. After the Second World War, new government did not allow our people to return to Kosovo. During socialist Yugoslavia period, Kosovo demographics significantly changed, somewhat as a result of migrations of Serbs and other non-Albanians, and somewhat because of extremely high natality rates among Albanian population. During the 1990s wars, our state failed to behave in Kosovo as a state should behave. The fact that KLA committed crimes against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija cannot be used as justification for Serbia to hide and protect those who committed murders and crimes against Albanian civilians, and for various secret services to send criminals to loot and intimidate people in Kosovo. The state cannot protect, punish and judge based on national key, because then it is not a state.
This kind of behaviour provided an excuse for everybody with interests opposite to Serbian ones to abolish Serbian state jurisdiction in Kosovo and Metohija territory. Kosovo and Metohija are not part of legal and political system of Serbian state ever since the lost war, Kumanovo agreement and capitulation of Serbia in 1999. The jurisdiction over Kosovo and Metohija was passed to United Nations Security Council, based on the Resolution 1244. This is also an international agreement that Western powers and Russia wrote together. Even the name of the territory was changed from Kosovo and Metohija into only Kosovo. According to that new international agreement, it is clear that Serbian state and its institutions are not governing Kosovo, and that Serbian laws are not valid in Kosovo. However, this resolution does not say that Kosovo is an independent state, or that it will become independent. This is something that great world powers left unresolved, to be used in their future power plays.
Although they created Resolution 1244, Western countries do not stick to it in practice. They completely ignore parts of resolution that pertain to status neutrality and rights of Serbian state in Kosovo. And we cannot do anything about it. Even Russia, or any other country in the world, cannot do anything about it. Russia is not present in Kosovo. Nor are Brazil, India, Spain or Argentina. Western powers are creating an independent state in Kosovo today. Nobody cares what we think.
Besides being in the interest of the Western powers, who are creating an independent state in Kosovo, this illegal usurpation of Kosovo is also in Russian interest. Russia created Resolution 1244 together with Western countries. Russia quoted Kosovo example as its basis for annexation of Crimea. Russians amount to 90% of Crimea citizens, just as today, after 2004 ethnic cleansing, Albanians amount to over 90% of Kosovo citizens. The fact is that Crimea was Russian and that Khrushchev passed it to Ukraine via communist decree. However, it is also the fact that Russia acknowledged all post-Soviet states within their borders at the time. The only legal justification for annexation of Crimea is an illegal precedent that Western powers made in Kosovo. With Russian blessing, since it never objected to Resolution 1244.
Kosovo can officially and legally become an internationally acknowledged state either via new Security Council resolution, or via Serbian decision to recognize Kosovo independence. There is no third way about it. The fact that Kosovo was recognized as independent state by majority of United Nation member states does not change the fact that international legal status of Kosovo is still determined by Resolution 1244 and that Kosovo is not internationally recognized state, neither formally nor legally. Resolution 1244 was written by both Western powers and Russia. It is also true that in practice, Serbia has no influence in Kosovo, except in the northern part. What history is teaching us, and what is a real problem, is the fact that big powers always make an agreement in the end. The price of that agreement is always paid by small countries. We are a small country.
These are facts. What are we to do, then?
Foreign policy of every successful country is based on clearly defined interests and understanding of interests of other countries. In foreign policy, just as in economy, there are no friends. Only interests exist. What are the concrete interests of Republic of Serbia in Kosovo?
- Essential autonomy, not the Association of Kosovo Serb Municipalities, as a guarantee of survival of Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo.
- Protection of all human rights of Serbs and other non-Albanians in Kosovo
- Jurisdiction of Serbia over Serbian cultural monuments in Kosovo
- Protection of property rights of individuals as well as property of all companies and the Church property
- Preservation and strengthening of economic and all other relationships with Kosovo
These interests can be understood by all other countries. ‘Kosovo is heart of Serbia’ is understood by no one, because emotions are not a subject of negotiations. Nobody can object to any of these negotiating principles, based on Serbian interests, during resolution of the Kosovo issue – not even Western powers. Because these are unquestionable, civilization values that their countries are founded on.
The basis and precondition of any successful policy in the 21st century is economic strength. Only economically powerful countries can lead meaningful foreign policy. For decades, Serbia has had incapable governments that were unable to take care of their own citizens, not to mention anybody else’s. In order for Serbia to become a regional leader, it has to first bring itself to order and build strong domestic economy. This is a kind of country that other countries gravitate to, instead of running away from it. The precondition for resolution of all our problems is – economy. It does not immediately solve all the problems within our education system or destroyed judiciary. However, it is a precondition of their eventual resolution. Not the other way around.
Nobody is asking Serbia to recognize Kosovo independence. However, in practice, the property of our citizens and companies is being usurped, property and human rights of non-Albanians are being denied. Serbia needs politics which will prevent that and defend our legitimate interests.
The politics of Koštunica’s, Tadić’s and Vučić’s governments was the politics of sticking our head in the sand, and the politics of procrastination. While Serbia’s head is hidden deep in the send of meaningless platitudes, we are losing our undisputed rights in Kosovo. Because our particracy is not protecting them. They are protecting themselves and their own power.
What can citizens who see and understand this do? They can vote differently. This is what particracy is most scared of. Serbia needs a state-building policy that is turned towards true interests of the Serbian state. Elections are the only place where this can be changed.
President of political movement ‘Enough is Enough’