Sunday, May 19, 2024

THREE HISTORICAL AGREEMENTS

Like North Macedonia, Kosovo has not the power to postpone the agreement with Serbia, nor to remove it from the international agenda. What it can do is learn from the mistakes of its southern neighbor, where the process of reaching and implementing the Agreement with Greece almost culminated in civil war due to the polarization of society.

Author: Xhelal Neziri

Kosovo seems to be going through the most difficult period of its statehood. North Macedonia also went through the same phase of a serious compromise in 2018, when it was forced to change the name of the state in the Constitution because a region in northern Greece bears the same name. It was assessed that from this agreement Greece came the winner as a strongest state, a member of NATO and the EU. In reality, experience shows that only 20 percent of solutions to interstate issues are based on international law, or have been fair. In most cases, the most powerful state with the strongest position on the international stage has won.

ASIMETRIC REPORT AND THE CLASH OF EXPECTATIONS

Kosovo, like North Macedonia, is in a process of asymmetric dialogue with the dialogue party. Serbia is a member of the UN, has been negotiating EU membership since 2013 and is expected to become a member by 2025. The economic, security and diplomatic potential, as well as its geostrategic position, make it an even heavier party in the dialogue. On the other hand, Kosovo is a new state, with an unfinished state, with insufficient recognition, which is not a member of the UN, accepted by all EU countries, with weaker economic potential, security and diplomatic and with a not so attractive geostrategic position.

It is the strong friendship with Washington, London, Berlin and Brussels that has balanced the reports to some extent, which has led to successive agreements as a process to the statehood of Kosovo. Have these reports been inflamed recently?

The political crisis in Kosovo now stems from the clash of two completely different expectations from the new government that emerged from the 2019 parliamentary elections: internationals expected a government capable of managing the process and flexible in reaching an agreement with Belgrade and most voters in Kosovo demanded a rule of law, the fight against corruption and economic development.

This discrepancy in expectations caused confusion among the Kurti’s government, which produced frustrations within the coalition that led to its collapse. The government of hope led by the emblematic duo Albin Kurti – Vjosa Osmani was apparently early. At a time when real politic constructiveness is required and not moralization and theorizing, players who take the risk of losing in the next elections due to the acceptance of a serious compromise are required on the scene. On the other hand, the citizens of Kosovo are fed up with corruption, nepotism, hopelessness, isolation and the promises they have heard in every election in the last 20 years. The increase in the popularity of LVV from 2014, when it was the third force, until 2019, when it was the first, is a result of the great despair of the Kosovar voter from the same political faces.

THE PROCESS OF NORMALIZATION OF WESTERN BALKANS 

The definition of the crisis in Kosovo seems to be dominated by the thesis that it is the US President’s delegate in the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue, Richard Grenell, who has put pressure on this government to fall in order for another to finalize the historic agreement. It is a fact that on the eve of the US presidential election, the Republican candidate and current President Donald Trump need a historic Pristina-Belgrade agreement. However, in essence, it is only a continuation of a process started much earlier that had to do with the normalization or stabilization of the Western Balkans. This meant resolving three serious issues of historical significance: the name issue between North Macedonia and Greece, Kosovo in relation to Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Following the Slovenia-Croatia and Albania-Greece maritime border agreements, resolving these disputes would ultimately remove obstacles to accelerating the process of integration of the Western Balkans into the EU and NATO.

These two structures (EU and NATO) often appear to be divided in or between them. They have great divergences and disagreements, but their goal remains the same, especially in the Balkans. EU and NATO member states are like members of a family who quarrel all day, but in the evening, everyone sleeps under one roof.

Brussels and Washington are unanimous when it comes to protecting the roof from external threats, which made them returned to the troubled Balkan region. The threat from malignant influences became alarming especially after 2008, when Skopje experienced a veto from Greece on NATO membership during the Bucharest Summit, although then-US President George W. Bush warned that North Macedonia, Croatia and Albania would be the three new members of the Alliance. This date also marks the beginning of the strengthening of the position of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, on the international stage. The failure to implement NATO’s plan for NATO to be part of NATO’s inability to continue Georgia’s membership project in the Alliance has given Putin an even stronger impetus to global politics. In the first case, it was Athens that favored Moscow with its veto, and in the second case, Russia’s military invasion of the former Soviet republic. Six years later, Russia repeated its military intervention to keep NATO as far away from its borders as possible, this time in Ukraine. As in Georgia, where it annexed Russian-majority regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – in Ukraine it has annexed Crimea and Donbas, parts also dominated by Russian ethnicity.

With these actions, Russia has announced that it is ready to go to war with the West if NATO continues to expand in its direction.
Only as troubled, divided, with a permanent hostility would the Balkans continue to be left out of Euro-Atlantic structures. It was through the state of a frozen conflict between states and ethnicities that Moscow and other centers of malignant influence would maintain and strengthen their presence in the region.

Therefore, the continuation of the process of reaching the second historic agreement in the region (Pristina-Belgrade) even in times of pandemic shows the great commitment of the West in solving the problem. Same as North Macedonia, Kosovo has not the power to postpone the agreement with Serbia, nor to remove it from the international agenda. What it can do is learn from the mistake of the southern neighbor, where the process of reaching and implementing the Agreement with Greece almost did not culminate in civil war due to the polarization of  the society./KDP

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