By Harry Bajraktari
The current dangerous situation created on the border between Kosova and Serbia has only one culprit, Belgrade and the regime of President Vucic.
For ten years now, Serbia has removed the plates of all Kosovar vehicles that entered its territory. Kosova had rightly announced that it would do the same. In September 2016, with the mediation of the European Union, Kosova agreed to postpone the reciprocal measure and signed an agreement with Serbia that delayed it for five years. Now the deadline ended and Kosova has implemented the measure. Instead of respecting its own agreement, Serbia has reacted by inciting revolts of ethnic Serbs inside Kosova and by moving army troops, heavy armaments, and military aircrafts near the border, escalating the situation.
Nothing in Kosova’s actions justifies the behavior of Serbia. It is a fabricated outrage from Belgrade that is looking to test the tolerance of the international community, NATO, and Kosova authorities. As Serbia is preparing for the next round of elections, Vucic needs a crisis for his domestic political situation.
Whatever the reasons behind Vucic’s reaction, what is happening near the border of Kosova is nothing else than the threat of military aggression and it should worry us.
Kosova needs all our help and support today. The Albanian-American community has always been on the forefront of every effort in support of Kosova, from the time when few people in the world knew its name. We should all join our forces and show our strength. Albanians everywhere in the Balkans and in the world should do the same.
It is time to show Serbia that Kosova is not on this alone. Millions of Albanians, wherever they are, should be by the side of Kosova. So should the Albanian political leaders in the Balkans. It was good to see the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama visit Prishtina and express support for the position of Kosova. However, this is not enough. He should make it clear to Vucic and the world that there can be no Open Balkans with an aggressive Serbia that threaten its neighbors with violence. Otherwise, his words in Prishtina will sound empty.
It is time to show Serbia that they cannot push Kosova around and face no response and consequences by the Albanian world and by our allies.
In fact, the response of the United States and the European Union has been weak. They keep calling on both sides to deescalate but only Serbia has been using its army and threatened to create an international conflict. Kosova has only been doing what every country would have done. If Serbia won’t recognize Kosova plates, then Kosova has the right to reject the Serbian ones.
Our allies and most of the international community recognize the independence of Kosova. Therefore, they should treat Kosova as a sovereign country that has the right to make decision on what happens within its borders.
Unlike Serbia, which is being ruled by a dictator, Kosova is the best democracy in the Western Balkans. It has proved to be a factor of peace and good neighborhood in the region. This is a country that represents the best the democratic values of the West. So why the hesitation in this moment of truth?
US and EU have been trying to appease Serbia for years, hoping that it will return to the Western fold, but it has only encouraged Vucic to become more aggressive with his neighbors, Montenegro, Bosnia, and now Kosova. Two proposals by EU and KFOR that aimed to normalize the border situation have been agreed by Kosova, but rejected by Serbia. In this situation, Russia has expressed its unconditional support for Serbia. The United States and NATO should stop their futile neutrality and put their weight behind Kosova. Serbia has shown many times now that it understands only the language of strength.
I call on all Albanians to show our determination and be by the side of Kosova. Stop the Serbian aggression on Kosova, now!