Kosovo’s outgoing government has yet again declared a trade war against Macedonia. This measure is so frequently used and abused by Pristina that running trade and economy in that country is starting to look more and more like a soap opera.
Last year, Kosovo also promoted sanctions by banning the import of agricultural products from all four neighbors, including Albania. It is now angry that, due to the standards required by the European Union, Macedonia had to put a stop to imports of fresh fish from Kosovo’s suppliers. And instead of looking in its own backyard and applying the very standards required by Brussels and required by the region, Kosovo’s government responded the only way it found successful lately – by using threats, sanctions and various penalties for the neighboring countries.
The entire world has been wondering for almost a year about the introduction of a 100 percent duty on all products from Serbia and BiH, which has no economic logic but only political, and is even damaging to the Kosovo economy, despite having nothing to do with the market economy. Recently, in a rush of new anti-Serbian populism, Pristina has banned the entry of all owners of Serbian passports into its territory, another uncivilized measure long unknown and unseen on European territory.
It has now banned the import of honey and potatoes from Macedonia, not hiding the fact that this decision has no logic or justification other than revanchist. Macedonia has so far responded to Kosovo’s economic populism with a lot of patience and fairness, but it comes a time when the spoiled “child” in the neighborhood has to learn that it should solve its own problems, not through us, but by looking in its own backyard. So, the way Pristina behaves, the day will soon come when everyone in the region and beyond will regret what they have recognized it as an independent country because it actually behaves like a guerrilla territory. Additionally, it will prove to be a troubled neighbor who does not know what the word ‘dialogue’ stands for, and resolves all disputes with neighbors, including well-intentioned ones, by pressure and threats. Because all such measures by Pristina deter foreign investors not only from Kosovo but the entire region and destroy all EU plans for a common economic space to boost the economy of each country individually.
Ultimately, this latest ban on honey and potato imports also opens up the dilemma of why Macedonia would invest in infrastructure to reach such an uncertain market that depends on the current caprices or ratings of the Kosovo leadership. As with the dilemma, what if Macedonia one day starts the negotiations with the European Union and adjusts its policies, including the visa regime, to Brussels’ demands, as Bulgaria did to us? Will then Kosovo declare an actual war?
Kosovo is, in fact, the best example of how governing a state can interfere with politics and populism, and everything that is done in this context is to protect one’s narrow business interests at any cost, or to keep their power by selling political nonsense. Instead of explaining to citizens at home that it takes time and work to meet some standards in commerce, and instead of seeking help from Macedonia or the EU for Kosovo’s fish to arrive under the prescribed rules, Pristina sells empty phrases to Kosovars, building up their state “ego” in trade disputes with neighbors.