OpEd

In response to Serbian Vucic and some other issues

When the implementation of the agreement that emerges from the dialogue under the leadership of the Kurti II Government is assessed, after ten or more years, another concession, even more painful than the ones we have seen now, should be expected. I know that the cynics have started to say that recognition by Serbia is nothing and that the other countervalues ​​that are offered are enough (recognition by the five non-recognizing countries, membership in the Council of Europe and so on). Everyone should know, however, that non-recognition by Serbia gives it an internationally recognized right to return here whenever a fundamental change arises or is created in the current international order.

At the last meeting of the UN General Assembly, which was held in New York, as it is held every year, many world leaders spoke. Among them was the current leader of the Serbian state, Aleksandër Vucic, while no one from Kosovo appeared, despite the fact that they have done a lot these years in the fight against organized crime and corruption. Maybe one day these people of ours will understand that the international subject does not enter the UN through the fight against organized crime and corruption, nor is it found in organized international institutional structures. Anyway! This is not important here, because the topic I started has to do with Vučić and a dilemma he raised in the Assembly, where he said, among other things, that "to this day I still don't understand why Kosovo is different from Ukraine, why the territorial integrity of Ukraine is different from the territorial integrity of other UN member states".

Dilemma with two meanings

With this dilemma that the Serbian leader posed, he raised two dimensions of the problem. First, he thereby effectively invalidated the official position of his state that supposedly protected the territorial integrity of Ukraine. This was proven in those days, ironically, when his Foreign Minister, Nikola Selakovic, signed an agreement on foreign policy coordination with the Russians, something not very common for a country that apparently condemns aggression against Ukraine; therefore, it condemns aggression and, at the same time, makes cooperation agreements in the field of foreign policy precisely with the aggressor of Ukraine (sic!). Second, with this dilemma, he reinforced the Russian idea, which says that the secession of Kosovo and its independence are no different from the Russian-sponsored secessions in the territories that are defined as the immediate neighborhood. With this, Vučić has effectively defended Russia's official position regarding its near neighborhood policy orientation. This policy is nothing but another name for Russia's unlimited right to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia's neighbors. This Serbian position is fully reflected in the agreement that Selakovic concluded in New York. The issue is this: how is it possible that Vučić enjoys so much luxury and room for maneuver in foreign policy, so much so that he pursues a completely different policy from the countries on both sides of the Atlantic?

Increase in Serbian specific gravity

The geographical position of a country, its location, in the calculations of external power, usually occupies a large place, so large that in some cases it represents the main determinant of the country's policy towards others. This situation can last for centuries, as is the case with Turkey, which, since the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, represents what Napoleon called "the navel of the world". In other cases, the geographical position represents the main determinant, not always, but only in a transitory phase, from which a country benefits and increases its overall power, even though other parameters of power, such as military power, population, economy and other factors, there is a country with average influence or other negligible influence in international relations. Such was the case of Tito's former Yugoslavia at the time when he founded the so-called Non-Alignment Movement. This situation is encountered today in Serbia, after the brutal Russian aggression in Ukraine. For those who have little knowledge about it, in short, it has been a movement of countries with an ideological orientation from Moscow or Washington, but for specific international security problems they have maintained neutral positions. This position of theirs has given them good maneuverability at a time when the international order has been black and white, rigid and with only two deployment centers. These unincorporated countries have often served as a barometer for the security situation in certain areas of the globe.

What, then, is the similarity between today's Serbia and Tito's Yugoslavia? This similarity is only in one aspect - that of international security. In other aspects, the leadership of Tito and that of Vucic and their comparison does not carry any weight for the purposes of this article.

Ukraine, turning point

Russian aggression in Ukraine has done what few could have imagined: it has homogenized Western countries in all aspects of their lives and activities, starting from energy and cyber security to changing their concept of Russia's role and position in European security and beyond. This homogenization has found Kosovo in the process of dialogue with Serbia, initiated at the request of the General Assembly, the institution to which Vuçiqi addressed a few days ago. This dialogue has had a more or less lethargic trend, as it is today, until the time of former President Trump, when he introduced the theory of mutual recognition as the final goal of the dialogue. This theory underwent a slight change during the Kurti II Government, putting mutual recognition at the center. In other respects, things did not change.

It is not disputed that dialogue implies two parties, which are present, and someone on the side who tries to do something for these two parties, which are also present. What is discussed and is problematic has to do with the relative position of the parties, because in every dialogue the end is always "a game with a loser", although from those who mediate this end is presented in terms of a "game without a loser". The relative position of the parties, judged according to what is said in public, but also what is said in diplomatic circles, is this: Kosovo has the power of being an ally with the winners of the Cold War, while Serbia does not; Serbia was aligned with the winners of the Cold War in condemning the Russian aggression in Ukraine, the same as Kosovo; Kosovo has "revealed" the hypocrisy of the Serbian foreign policy, because this has not been clear regarding the imposition of sanctions against Russia, and so on. I forgot to say that the formation of the Association, the main Serbian request, represents for Kosovo an asset for influence, a lever of influence that constitutes the key to its success in dialogue with Serbia. But is this so? I also forgot to say that what is being forgotten here is that Serbia, not Kosovo, represents the only actor in the region that can keep Russia and China in the Balkans!

The only thing known about the Association is that it is a state obligation, in terms of the constitution and according to international law. Its content is not known, because a decision of the Constitutional Court has significantly narrowed Kosovo's room for maneuver regarding the modalities of its formation. But the Serbian side also has the same constitutional limitation, which sees Kosovo as "substantial autonomy", while in the constitutional preamble there is a crazy Serbian commitment that binds the work of every body and institution of this neighboring country, a commitment that must to adhere to. Since this is so, then the model of the Prespa Agreement seems to be the most logical, that is, that the parties undertake in writing to take concrete mutual and consecutive steps to correct their constitutional positions against each other, until the peace of stable.

Knowledge at the center, this great illusion

If for the Serbian side the Association represents a sublime goal at the moment, because it is defined by them as an existential state goal, then for our side what is the existential goal! If one side defines the purpose of the dialogue in existential terms and the other does not, then it is clearly a loser's game. For our side, that goal consists in full, total and irreversible recognition of Kosovo by Serbia, the recognition that is called de jure. Why should this be done? The answer to this encapsulates the answer to Vucic's dilemma, which he presented to the UN General Assembly. This recognition must come from Serbia, meaning de jure recognition, because Serbia itself will find it difficult to preserve its national heritage, as well as the Kosovo Serbs themselves. In addition, there has been a systematic terror in Kosovo for several years that has led to the intervention of NATO, terror that has been state, with strong premises of genocide, that has been stopped by NATO. As such, the terror was orchestrated and had a clear political goal - the cleansing of Kosovo from the Albanian majority. This means that Serbian terror, widely documented by reliable international sources, was state terror. This makes distinct the killing and persecution of local Serbs by some Albanian individuals after the war, a fact that occurred as a result of individual acts of revenge for the killings and losses suffered in the war, either as civilians or as fighters of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the force the only Albanian that has resisted Serbian aggression in Kosovo until the arrival of NATO. Another important difference, which makes Kosovo distinct from the political formations built by the Russians in their neighborhood and the Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina, is that the decision of the International Court of Justice has made it clear that the Serbian formations in Bosnia-Herzegovina they are formations created by the Serbian genocide. The last and substantial difference, which was also established by the opinion of the ICJ for Kosovo, is that in the Kosovo case it is about the exercise of the free will of the citizens, by internationally recognized legal institutions, without any military intervention from outside, while in the Russian and Serbian cases, military presence and external violence against non-Russians and non-Serbs have resulted in the formation of pre-political entities there.

Do these clarifications and arguments help in gaining full recognition from Serbia of our country? Does filing a fictitious lawsuit for genocide, which was warned by the Kurti II Government, help? Does the reformation of the genocide institutes in Kosovo help to accommodate the financial appetites of some colleagues of the author of these lines, who I doubt can write a civil lawsuit, let alone a genocide lawsuit? Of course they don't help! That this will not happen is clearly seen from the proposals that came to Pristina from various emissaries of Kosovo's friendly countries and that talk about the Association as a form of state. The counter value offered for this is the eventual recognition by the five non-recognizing countries, which is actually not a little, because with the recognition of Kosovo by Spain, the Catholic countries of Latin America would follow the same path. Another eventual counter value that is offered is the membership in the Council of Europe, which is not small either: with this membership, the institutions of Kosovo, the judiciary and the Constitutional Court in the first place, would have a problem deciding, as they are deciding, about the freedoms and the rights of this country, because there will be a heavy price for their mistakes, which the taxpayers of the country will pay. The counter value of mutual recognition, or in the center, apparently will not come this time either. When the implementation of the agreement that emerges from the dialogue under the leadership of the Kurti II Government is assessed, after ten or more years, another concession, even more painful than the ones we have seen now, should be expected. I know that the cynics have started to say that recognition by Serbia is nothing and that the other countervalues ​​that are offered are enough (recognition by the five non-recognizing countries, membership in the Council of Europe and so on). Everyone should know, however, that non-recognition by Serbia gives it an internationally recognized right to return here whenever a fundamental change arises or is created in the current international order. No one can offer a convincing argument that this change in the international order will not happen one day. But the good thing about this is that when this change comes, it won't come in the span of a generation. Robert Lansing, former Secretary of State to President Woroow Wilson, wrote in his diary that King Nokola of Montenegro was marching through the streets of Versailles in the hope that his little kingdom would be restored. The Americans derecognized Montenegro in 1921. Interesting!

(The author is the first president of the Constitutional Court and a professor of law and international relations)