A NATO membership for Kosova, visa liberalization and full EU recognition is the only solution
By MA. AGIM ALIÇKAJ *
“Albanians suffer from short memory, so short that after a short time they call their butchers friends.”- LEO FREUNDLICH
I chose this quote of Austrian publicist, politician, and author of the document on Serbian crimes “Albanian Golgotha”, not as proof of Albanian “national stupidity,” but to reveal to the democratic world the human values of the Albanian nation, the values that are lacking in Serbian society. The Serbian rulers in coordination with the Serbian church and the Academy of science and culture have pursued their policies of hegemony, chauvinism, inhumanity and aggressive hostility against others. This has been open and well-documented. Detailed plans to exterminate the Albanian population and to annex Albanian lands have been published by Serbian representatives over the years, dating from Načertanije (1884) of Ilija Garašanin to the infamous memorandum “The Expulsion of the Albanians” (1937) by Vasa Cubrilovic. Terrifying facts show the implementation of these sick ideas by systematic killing of the civilian population and forceful expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Albanians to Turkey and other countries in the world. This long-term effort has culminated with the Serbian genocide against Albanians in 1999.
After all these miseries, the question arises: how can one talk in equal terms to an enemy so unrepentant, obscene and dangerous? A state guilty of atrocities, led by politicians whose views cannot be distinguished from those of the war criminal Milosevic, and who show no remorse. If anything, they are showing frustration that their goal of getting rid of all Albanians was not fulfilled. A chauvinist government that declares openly that Serbia will never recognize the independence of Kosova – their only sincere declaration. The rest of their statements of “cooperation” are simply lies and propaganda with the intention to manipulate the international community.
Logically, the side that behaves like an enemy should be treated as an enemy. There should be no talks with Serbia until it recognizes the crimes committed, asks forgiveness for the genocide, hands over its war criminals, returns the bodies of the massacred civilians, and pays war reparations. On the other hand, the democratic world expects an unconditional dialogue which Government of the Republic of Kosova cannot ignore. In these circumstances, the dialogue has to continue, but it should be real and based on facts and equality.
Serbia can and must be defeated with the power of arguments, armed with justice and truth with the support of the international community. The democratic world, who is appeasing Serbia, should be confronted with the very principles and values of diversity and inclusion, which it has been cultivating and promoting continuously and which they cannot ignore, deny or violate openly.
Building and strengthening the state of Kosova should be a priority, based on a real possibility that the dialogue with Serbia will continue forever. The need to fight corruption is urgent and should be done without compromise. Talented, educated and professional experts should be employed based on their capabilities and performances. All state institutions need to be improved, while setting strong foundations for effective health and social services. The economic development should look toward Albania and other friendly countries, as well as those who don’t express open hostility against Kosova. Law and order should be strengthened. The legal framework that regulates foreign investments should be simplified while offering competitiveness and quality. All these elements will make Kosova’s position stronger in the dialogue and everything else.
The Kosova delegation led by Prime Minister Kurti has wisely and competently started the difficult dialogue with the hostile and abnormal Serbian state. Seeking responsibility for the past and constructive peaceful proposals for the future are the right strategy and the only formula for victory.
AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT IN DIALOGUE IS ESSENTIAL
Dialogue can be led by Europe, but can never be successfully concluded without direct participation of the United States of America. The Albanian people love and trust America and view it as a symbol for democracy, strength, fairness and justice. Without America there will be no real justice for Kosova and no guarantees for the implementation of any agreement. Strategic interests of the American nation, most of the European nations and the Albanian nation are very much aligned. America is the only country that can confront Russian support for Serbian domination in the Balkans.
Mediators in dialogue must be impartial. This is the minimum that European representative Mr. Miroslav Lajcak does not meet. With his request for amendment of the constitution of the Republic of Kosova in order to implement anti-constitutional agreement for pure Serbian associations, he has come out against Kosova and the multi-ethnic European and American values. He looks more like a Serbian spokesperson than a mediator in the conflict.
We expect President Biden to urgently appoint an American representative who must get involved immediately in the ongoing Brussels talks. It certainly should not be someone like Mr. Palmer. He is an accomplished foreign affairs politician but with family ties to Serbia. This disqualifies him from being an impartial mediator. In the absence of the former pro-Serbian American ambassador Grenell, he showed his true stance by putting pressure on Kosova to implement the failed Washington agreement and no pressure on Serbia, who has already violated it without any hesitation and consideration for America.
Mr. Grenell’s so called agreement for “normalization of the economic relationship” between Kosova and Serbia is one of the strangest agreements ever “negotiated“. It is an illusion to pretend that economic relations between an aggressor and the victim can be normalized, while the aggressor does not recognize and openly tries to destroy the victim. Mr. Grenell orchestrated this charade to help Serbia and get the Serbian-American vote for President Trump but still, lost the election. The Republic of Kosova was saved by the American people this time.
LOBBYING IN AMERICA
There is only one way to hold accountable undiplomatic, biased politicians like Mr. Grenell-lobbying in Washington through the US Congress. Pro-Serbian politicians and diplomats like Grenell can be called in Congressional hearings to explain their views and relationship with anti-American, pro-Russian countries like Serbia. And, there is only one Lobby who can do it properly- the Albanian American Civic League led by two impressive personalities, national Albanian rights activists and experts, former congressman Joe DioGuardi and Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi. Among many accomplishments, the League has successfully confronted Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger who had sympathies and ties to Serbia and stopped Ambassador Robert Gelbard from declaring Kosova Liberation Army a terrorist organization.
The Albanian American Civic League is the only registered, uncompromising Albanian-American lobbying organization in Washington. The League’s work in Washington for the independence of Kosova and on behalf of the human and political rights of all Albanian people has been legendary. This can be verified by visiting its website aacl.com. Almost every American Senator and Congressmen such as Biden, Dole, McCain, Lantos, Gilman, Hyde, Ros-Lehtinen among many others were informed by the League and came to support the Albanian quest for freedom and democracy.
This historical work of the Albanian American Civic League has still to be evaluated and properly recognized by our nation, especially by the Republic of Kosova. The expectation is that President Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti will do the right thing, the one that their corrupt predecessors failed to do, start the process of building a Statue and naming a square or an important street in Prishtina dedicated to Joseph J. DioGuardi and Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi. Without it the history of the independence of Kosova will not be true and complete.
Every Albanian-American has a right and a duty to help our both nations in its own way. However, it is very important not to confuse lobbying with diplomacy. The representatives from our Homeland are there to perform diplomacy. To get necessary support on important issues from the US officials, they can present facts and arguments in closed meetings without any unnecessary public confrontation.
Lobbyists are not there to be diplomatic. They are American tax payers who have the right to promote policies or challenge possible wrong policies of certain administration through the US Congress. It really doesn’t make sense to support and praise officials like Ambassador Grenell for “doing a great job”, while he, in coordination with sell-out politicians of Kosova, was ruining democracy in Kosova and trying to give Serbia access to the Albanian lands. That is not lobbying on behalf of a nation. It appears to be an opposite, anti-lobbying activity to get favorable treatment from an US official for personal gain.
UNFAIR AND UNJUST SOLUTION CANNOT BE IMPOSED ON KOSOVA BY ANYONE
There is no power in the world that can impose an unfair and unjust solution of the conflict with Serbia against the will of the people of Kosova. One of the gravest mistakes in a long confrontation with Serbia was that the Albanian people have always been on the defensive, without any plan or strategy, responding to the organized Serbian state terrorism. With new Kurti government in place everything is changing. America and Europe now have a strong partner to work with. A well-prepared strategy in dealing with Serbia should be based on following:
– The territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the Republic of Kosova cannot be negotiated by anyone and with no one. The people of Dardania have paid for it with blood and sacrifice. PERIOD. PIKË. TAčKA. (for all parties to understand)
– Serbian demands for associations of purely ethnic municipalities within the state of Kosova are baseless and unnecessary. They are in sharp contradiction with the multi-ethnic values of the Western civilization. Kosova would become an unfunctional country dependent on Serbia forever. They should never even be discussed. PERIOD. PIKË. TAčKA.
-The Republic of Kosova has no obligation to implement the Brussels agreement for Serbian ethnically clean associations and Washington agreement for economic stabilization. All countries break harmful agreements all the time. Serbia has already broken Washington’s agreement and most agreements.
– Serbia should be treated as an aggressor who has lost the war. It should undergo a process of pacification and denazification. It is necessary to be cured of the disease of hate for other nations and the illusions for land-grab and domination in SE Europe.
– Serbia must be pressured to admit and apologize for genocide against Albanian civilian population. Kosova has the right to sue Serbia for genocide and also demand the investigation of President Vuciq and other Serbian politicians who were part of Milosevic’s regime. His statement that all sides are guilty is ridiculous and unacceptable.
– it is about time that Europe understands that their policy of appeasing Serbia to bring it out of the Russian influence has failed. A strong economical, political and diplomatic pressure will be successful.
– Any negotiations with Serbia should never be about the internal affairs of the Republic of Kosova, they should be only about two neighboring countries issues and relations.
– The rights of the Serbian minority in Kosova should be addressed properly, regularly and directly with their representatives in the presence of international mediators (excluding Russia). The principle of reciprocity and equality should be applied to protect the rights of the Albanians living in their ancestry land in South Serbia.
– The extra-territoriality demand for the religious orthodox places of worship and cultural monuments is baseless. They are part of the national and cultural treasure of the country of Kosova. They have been protected and preserved by the Albanian people throughout history. A joint commission of international historians and scholars should be formed to research and study historical facts, to finally put to rest the nationalist Serbian medieval myth claiming Kosova as “the cradle of the Serbian civilization”. This false claim has been misused for too long by Serbia to justify chauvinistic policies and state-sponsored violence.
In reality, it is easy to prove the undeniable truth that, as the patriot Bardhyl Mahmuti put it “Kosova is the cradle of the Serbian barbarism and genocide against the Albanian people”, PM Kurti said “Serbia entered Kosova with genocide and left with genocide” and we all believe “Kosova is the grave of the Serbian nationalism, chauvinism, barbarism, hegemonism, expansionism and uncivilized behavior”.
WHO CARES IF SERBIA DOESN’T RECOGNIZE THE INDEPENDENCE OF KOSOVA
The people of Dardania voted massively for President Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti mostly for two especially important reasons: fighting corruption and standing up to the Serbian enemy. The voters expect them to emerge victorious from the dialogue with Serbia as well as to build and strengthen the statehood of the Republic of Kosova. If they fail in any of them, they will lose their popular support. Any constructive criticism by the opposition and political opponents should be taken into consideration, evaluated, and properly answered. Any insults and unprincipled criticism should be ignored completely.
The latest threats of another war by Serbian chauvinists are empty. With the establishment of the NATO forces in SE Europe, the time of wars has passed. What is more likely to happen is the extended hostile activity by Serbia in different ways and using various methods, exploiting religious and other concerns of the Serbian minority, potential infiltration of certain regions of Kosova with Serbian hooligans and bandits to incite unrest and so on. It is imperative for the Albanian nation to be ready to defend itself with all necessary means and counter any Serbian attack.
The reality is that if the people of Kosova and other Albanian lands are organized and acting as one nation, they are much stronger than Serbia. They have the unconditional support of the patriotic and powerful diaspora. Who cares if Serbia doesn’t recognize the independence of the Republic of Kosova?! Within the lifetime of our generation alone, from 1981, Kosova has endured and resisted Serbian state terrorism for two long decades. Since 1999, following another two decades after the liberation from Serbia, Kosova continued its life without Serbian recognition. It has fared quite well even with a string of bad governments after the death of the historical President Ibrahim Rugova. With the new uncorrupt capable government of PM Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani in charge, Kosova can continue building its glorious path for a better future without Serbian recognition, for as long as there is life on Earth.
The national reunification of the Albanian people always was and remains the desire and the ideal of the greatest patriots of our nation. It is a legitimate need and a right of the Albanian nation, unjustly divided by World Powers led by Russia, living in six different countries today. This is something that Europe and America know and understand very well. It is not about changing the borders with force against the norms of the democratic world. It can and should be achieved gradually, peacefully, with a free movement and cooperation in all fields and all levels, with the final noble goal of becoming part of the European Union.
This is meaningfully in stark difference with the well-planned dark project of “Greater Serbia” which was pursued by Serbia by murdering and massacring hundreds of thousands of people, through ethnic cleansing and territorial annexation.
While the dialogue goes on, the possibility of Serbia recognizing Kosova’s independence through talks is unrealistic. In order to protect American strategic interests and bring its investment in Kosova to a successful conclusion, it is time for President Biden to say enough is enough, same as President Bush did in June of 2007. No one knows the situation in the Balkans and the conflict between Kosova and Serbia better than President Biden. Give the most pro-American country in the world membership in NATO, convince 5 remaining EU countries to recognize Kosova’s independence, approve visa liberalization and start the long process of Kosova’s entry in the European Union.
There is nothing that Serbia and Russia can do to stop it. On the other hand, this might help Serbia come to terms with reality, begin with necessary changes of joining civilized democratic world and accepting the fact that the independence of the Republic of Kosova is eternal.
It is time for both US and EU leadership to stop corrupt and authoritarian, possibly criminal rulers of Serbia led by Vuciq and his destructive collaborators, PM Rama of Albania, PM Zaev of North Macedonia and Milorad Dodik of Bosnia, from promoting Serbo-Russian hegemonic interests in the Balkans and destabilizing whole Europe. Their so-called “Balkan open” agenda is directly against European and American interests.
The Albanian nation is peaceful, freedom loving, enduring, invincible and unbreakable, with great traditions and high human values. As one of the oldest civilized nations in SE Europe, Albanian people have given to the world many great personalities like Skanderbeg, who for 25 years defended Europe from invading Ottoman Empire and Saint Mother Teresa, the symbol of humanity and care for people in need all over the world.
*Member of the Executive Board of the Albanian American Civic League and the Council of Vatra.