The Association of Serbian municipalities is unreasonable, unnecessary and dangerous   

By MSc. Agim Aliçkaj

         An extremely important hearing was held in the US Senate on May 18, to address the situation and evaluate US policy in the Western Balkans.

         The Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez, has proven to be the symbol of American justice and greatness today, like President Biden in his Senate days, Senators Bob Dole and John McCain, and Congressmen Tom Lantos and Ben Gilman.

        Holding a hearing of this level and importance is only possible in the fairest and most democratic country in the world, the country where small nations can find justice and protection, the USA.

         Serbia was portrayed for what it is, an authoritarian criminal state, an aggressor in war and an aggressor in peace, strongly oriented towards Russia and China. While Kosova is a democratic country under development, a victim of war and a victim in peace, with a clear orientation towards the EU and the USA, Serbia and Russia are heavily involved in destabilizing the Western Balkans, against American and European strategic interests.

         Senator Menendez’s comments and questions were clear, direct, fair and very valuable for the solution of the Balkan problem and its future in Europe. These are the questions of Albanians and other peace-loving people, who are disappointed by the open international injustice towards Kosova since the declaration of independence.

          “We are seeing most pressure on Kosova and none or very little pressure on Serbia. I see no guarantee that the Association of Serbian Municipalities will not become another Republika Srpska, which would make Kosova a dysfunctional state, like Bosnia. I asked the same question to Mr. Escobar a year ago and did not receive any satisfactory answer” said Mr. Menendez.

         He went on to present in detail the real situation in the Western Balkans.

         One party to the dialogue is not participating in good faith. Vučić refused to sign the Ohrid agreement and expressed disagreement with it immediately. He says one thing to placate Western leaders and another to the Serbian public through the controlled media. Serbia has already broken the agreement by opposing Kosova’s membership in the Council of Europe and encouraging the boycott of municipal elections by the Serbian minority.        

         Serbia is refusing to impose Western democracies’ sanctions on Russia, has close ties with Russia, and has adopted a vision of “Greater Serbia” in line with Putin’s “Greater Russia”. The New York Times Magazine reports about Vučić and his government’s connection to Serbian criminal gangs.

         “I have been informed by the leaders of the Presheva Valley about the discrimination against ethnic Albanians there. Their identity is being wiped through address pacification. What is being done about it? Also, what is being done to convince the five European countries that have not recognized Kosova to do so.

         We must seek fair and lasting solution, not some temporary solution that favors one side. Our goal should be a final agreement based on mutual recognition, nothing else”, concluded Mr. Menendez.

         It was significant that the senior adviser at the US State Department, Derek Chollet, and the envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, both highly experienced diplomats, in their testimony expressed their strong and unwavering support for independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Kosova. They emphasized that they will not accept the creation of a “Republika Srpska” in Kosova.

         However, they failed to explain why the Association of Serbian municipalities is needed since the Serbian minority is enjoying not only all rights, but also privileges like no other minority in the world. It is obvious that it is only needed to satisfy and appease Serbian criminals and chauvinists.

         Mr. Escobar’s explanation that the Association Agreement is an international obligation accepted by Kosova 10 years ago, that it should not be considered a favor for Serbia, that it will take away their argument and put the Serbian minority under Kosova’s control, is naive and baseless.

         The reality is that it has never been ratified by the Serbian Parliament and that the Constitutional Court of Kosova has declared it unconstitutional. Serbia has broken most of the signed agreements. The request for Association is a dangerous, carefully planned Serbian precondition which, if accepted, will be followed by endless other preconditions. It is a Serbian tool, desire and effort to destroy the Republic of Kosova.

         Mr. Escobar should get directly advice from President Biden who knows better than anyone how Serbian politicians lie, cheat, deceive, pretend, incite and manipulate. Or, he should read the Serbian father Dobrica Cosic’s statement about their talent for lying which, he claims has saved them many times in history. They are the masters of victimization.

         It was unprecedented that Mr. Chollet admitted that the New York Times Magazine article about Vučić and his government’s connection with criminal gangs in Serbia and northern Kosova is true. However, he was unable to explain how they can be considered reliable partners to work with and implement the agreements. He said that we have warned them about this and that we will keep our eyes open when  dealing with them. However, this did not seem to be a satisfactory answer.

         The most disturbing and disappointing part of the testimony was when Mr. Chollet and Mr. Escobar were trying to blame both sides for lack of cooperation and implementation, which is simply not true. It is clear that only one side is creating all the problems. It is chauvinist, fascist, racist and hegemonic Serbia.

         This is the continuation of the failed European policy of appeasing the aggressor and equally blaming the victim. All this for geopolitical reasons and false hopes that Serbia will abandon Russia, which will never happen.

          It can be concluded that this session was a historic event that gives hope for a just and permanent solution to the Balkan problems. Mutual recognition and gradual inclusion in European structures and the NATO defense system is the only way forward.

          On the other hand, it is very likely that, with agreement or not, with recognition or not, Serbia will be a permanent source of destabilization and threat to peace in Europe. The only answer is to make Kosova strong economically and militarily so that Serbian criminals never dare to attack Kosova or any other Balkan country.

         Special thanks to the legendary leaders of the Albanian-American Civic League, Joe DioGuardi and Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, Board members and all other supporters for their outstanding contribution to the Albanian cause in Washington! I am deeply honored and extremely happy to be a part of these Nobel efforts in the interest of our nation for more than 32 years.