The Kosovo Army as a pretext

Although we have become accustomed to tough and unmerciful words in politics, however, the attack by Sela and Kasami on Zaev because he spoke of “national communist barbarism” crosses some boundaries, and only because Zaev repeated Stoltenberg’s statement

Gorgi Spasov

The decision to form an army in Kosovo has been welcomed joyfully by Albanians in Kosovo, in Macedonia and Albania these days. Ali Ahmeti welcomed the decision with a photograph in the KLA’s military uniform and congratulations on the “monumental achievement”. Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama on Facebook congratulated the formation of the Army of Kosovo and said: “Blessed is the newly born army of the Republic of Kosovo” and greetings were sent from all pro-government and pro-opposition leaders of the Albanians in the region, who are usually at odds on all other topics.

The decision to form an Army of Kosovo is certainly another step aimed at strengthening the independence of Kosovo and is now just another move by the government in Kosovo to force Serbia to discuss the normalization of relations between the two countries.

After Kosovo failed to become a member of Interpol, despite the support not only from the United States, but also from Macedonia, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro, and after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic declared the “defeat” of Kosovo a major victory for Serbia against “sponsors of Kosovo’s independence,” Pristina proceeded to take a kind of “retaliation” measures against Serbia.

Almost immediately after that event, Kosovo urgently increased import duty on all goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina by 100 per cent, and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, despite EU requests to annul the decision on increased customs, announced new “punitive measures” towards Serbia. Thus, according to the Pristina-based newspaper Gazeta Express, the first measure will apply to cars with Serbian license plates, whose owners, when they are in Kosovo territory, will have to place temporary plates. The second measure, according to the newspaper, would be a ban on import of goods from foreign companies produced in Serbia, which have so far not paid a fee of 100 percent. And the third measure would be the decision of the Kosovo government not to recognize the Serbian dinar and Serbian documents, which refer, for example, to the quality of products. The package also announced the decision to form the army in Kosovo, although the process of transforming the Kosovo Security Force into the Kosovo Army was planned quite differently and in other circumstances.

Prior to this decision, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn tried to persuade the Kosovo government to abolish customs duties on Serbia and not to hurry with the decision to form an army in order to continue the process of normalizing the relations between the two countries under the auspices of the EU.

But after meeting with Johannes Hahn in Pristina, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said: “Twenty years have passed since the war, 10 years since the proclamation of independence, and it is seen that Serbia does not understand otherwise, except when it has to (or is not forced) to deal with you.” And he added: “I believe both the EU and America know that Serbia does not understand a different approach.”

Jens Stoltenberg on December 5 at the NATO Summit with the Western Balkan countries made the following statement: “The intention to continue the transformation of Kosovo’s security services into a military is not a move at the right time and is contrary to the NATO allies’ councils and may have consequences on the Euro-Atlantic integration of Kosovo.”

But after this statement, Ramush Haradinaj replied: “NATO has great weight and can express its opinion, but Kosovo is convinced that it will never question relations with that military alliance.”

The Kosovo government was probably encouraged by the statement made by the US Ambassador to Pristina, Philip Kosnett, who said that forming a Kosovo army is a positive step. UK Ambassador to Pristina, Ruairí O’Connell, said that “official London believes it is the right of provisional institutions in Pristina to have their own army”. But he added that “Kosovo should continue its consultations with allies in NATO on this issue”.

An EU spokesperson after the decision to form an army in Kosovo said: “The Kosovo Assembly today passed a law to change the status of the Kosovo Security Force. The EU, as well as NATO, continues to believe that the mandate of the Kosovo Security Force should be changed only through an inclusive and gradual process in accordance with the Kosovo Constitution. ”

After all this, when asked by reporters about the decision of the Kosovo government to form its own army, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said: “I know that NATO’s position is the same – it’s not the time. We do not need any additional tensions. ”

“I appeal to all colleagues to mind their steps, because our common goal as countries of the Western Balkans aspiring for EU membership, is to promote cooperation and ensure lasting peace and excellent relations,” he said.

Nobody interpreted this statement by Zaev as hostile to Kosovo or, God forbid, the Albanians in Macedonia or the region. Nor did anyone think that for a statement by the prime minister that is identical to NATO’s stand should he apologize to the Albanians or withdraw it.

Sela’s party wants Zaev to withdraw the statement and claims that “Zaev only shows the dark and nationalist face, first against the Albanians and Kosovo, but also towards the United States as the main supporters of the establishment of the military in Kosovo.” And according to the announcement from the Besa movement of Bilal Kasami “the hasty statement of Prime Minister Zaev sounds like nationalism from the past … Albanians of this country gave him full mandate to rule, not to speak nonsense and national-communist barbarisms,” Besa stated.

The question now is whether the Alliance and Kasami’s Besa in this case are trying to exploit the differences in the statements of some US and NATO officials, to immediately blame Zaev as an opponent of the United States and a supporter of Serbia and Russia in the region. According to this logic, they will quickly come to the conclusion that Germany, NATO and the EU “speak nonsense and national-communist barbarism” and that unlike the United States that is on the side of Kosovo, NATO and the EU are on the side of Serbia and Russia.

Although we have become accustomed to tough and unmerciful words in politics, however, Sela and Kasami appear to have used Zaev’s statement, which is identical to that of Stoltenberg, completely unfoundedly, to blame Zaev for some anti-Albanian and Macedonian nationalism. They probably only on such a platform can ethnically mobilize their constituency after Zaev attracted a large number of Albanians with the platform for Macedonia as a society of equal citizens, but also after the possibility of joint lists and candidates of SDSM and of the DUI in the next elections. And the unfounded accusations of some kind of nationalism of Zaev can only harm their intentions and they attract votes not only from the Albanians in Macedonia, but also from the Macedonians, if they have such an intention at all.