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POLITICS, 02 APRIL 2018

WHAT DOES SERBIA WANT?

The consequences of the collapse of Serbian  Kosovo policy

With great regret, we can conclude that the Serbian policy regarding Kosovo experienced a complete collapse. This is also something that  the President of Serbia, Mr. Vučić recently publicly acknowledged.

Then there was a brutal provocation of the Albanian authorities in Kosovo by physical attacks, tear gas and the beatings of Serb officials in Kosovska Mitrovica last  Monday. Obviously, the action was aimed at making it difficult or completely impossible to reach any compromise solution.

14 years ago, within the internal dialogue on Kosovo, which was then run by Belgrade's Politika, I wrote that the only reasonable policy is that Serbia recognizes Kosovo's independence, provided it is organized like Belgium, with two entities, one in which the Albanians will be the majority and the other in which the Serbs will be the majority, and the regulation that no decision with consequences on all can be made without the consent of both entities.

If Serbia had proposed such a solution in 2004, Serbia would already be a full member of both, the EU and NATO. Is it already too late to make such a proposal? Perhaps it is not, but unfortunately, it seems that Serbia is not ready to make such a proposal, and it seems that the Albanians are not ready to accept such a proposal.

For this situation, Albanians are not to be blamed. From the very beginning, since the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serbia has failed to formulate a clear policy, what she wants with Kosovo, and how she sees relations between Serbs and Albanians. Serbia all the time talks about what she does not want, in no case will she ever agree to an independent Kosovo. The Prime Minister of Serbia, Ms. Brnabic, declares that Serbia will never recognize the establishment of another state on her territory. But what does Serbia want, no one says. The offer "more than autonomy and less than statehood" is unclear and without real content. Serbia did not give answers to questions about how the participation of Albanians from Kosovo in the political and constitutional-legal order of Serbia is imagined.

Politicians in power in Serbia today say they want to reach a historic compromise, that nobody gets everything they want and that everyone is a bit dissatisfied. What the compromise looks like, what we will propose to the Albanians, representatives of the government are not yet announcing. Mr. Vucic says he will present his proposal to the public when he hears all proposals in the internal dialogue he launched last year. And  in his recent statements, Mr. Vucic  is preparing the public for the possibility that the compromise will never be reached.

Representatives of the opposition criticize the government, which is normal. But they do not offer anything for Kosovo.  One part of  the opposition is against negotiatons with the Albanians in general. That part of the opposition proposes to keep the conflict frozen until the international circumstances change, and with the help of the "fraternal" Russia we unfreeze the conflict (maybe we warm it up with a firearms?) and we impose a "solution". Unfortunately, the other part of the opposition, which likes to present itself as "civil and pro-European", avoids the topic of Kosovo as a devil from the cross. They lead the politics as if praying to God that the issue of Kosovo be solved, in one way or another, before they come to power,  only that they do not have to solve it.

The consequence of the collapse of Serbia's Kosovo policy is that Serbia today is once again a bargaining chip. Instead of being a subject, Serbia is an object. Instead of being at the table and making the decision, Serbia is at the table and the object of the decisions. Now that Montenegro has entered NATO, and BiH is a de facto NATO protectorate, Serbia is fully surrounded by NATO pact. Like the small state of Lesotho in the middle of the South African Union. As the Serbs in the military region once served to "hideous" Austro-Hungary as a fence against Ottoman Empire, now the Serbs serve to "dear" Russia as a fence against the NATO expansion. Tthis  meaningless position of Serbia and the Republic of Srpska, serves t Russia only to demonstrate to the West its importance and power and to weaken the EU politically and economically. To disable the consolidation and strengthening of the EU, and to force the EU to cooperate with Russia under conditions dictated by Russia.

Russian exponents in Serbia say that Serbia should not go to NATO and the EU because the Germans, Americans, Britons and the French hate us, or do not like us, and because they bombed us, and they are taking our Kosovo from us. While Orthodox Russia loves us and prevents  NATO  from taking Kosovo from us . If this was not tragic, it would be comical. As if geopolitical relations are based on emotions rather than interests. As if the Greeks, Bulgarians and Romanians are not Orthodox and as if they were missing something being in the EU and NATO. Bulgaria, although in the EU, enjoys greater prestige in Russia and has better arrangements with Russia than Serbia ever had.

The difference between the EU and NATO on the one side and the "brotherhood" with Russia is at the forefront of the fact that even the smallest EU and NATO member states have the same rights to decide as the largest countries, while in the case of a "brotherhood " the decision and the final word is the word of Mr. Putin, the President of Russia.

So, our political elite, both in power and in the opposition, is wishy-washy and indecisive. Instead of leading and seeing what is in the public interest, they are acting on the basis of the reports of public opinion poll agencies. And this public opinion is again formed by a whole army of paid tabloids and TV stations. If they continue as before, the reckless policy "both Kosovo and Europe" will result in a collapse, the result will be "neither Europe nor Kosovo".

On the other hand, if our politicians overcome their fears, and made decisions in the interest of citizens and the state, and recognize the independence of Kosovo with two entities, and if the Albanians accept such a proposal from Serbia, Serbia and Kosovo with the Serbian entity in it,  and B&H with the Republic of Srpska, they all could quickly become full members of both,  of the EU and NATO. Then  they  would decide on themselves and others instead of others deciding on them. This way, all the Serbs would be in one state union, in the EU, as they were in federal Yugoslavia. Russia, if she really was a friend of Serbia, as a large part of the people of Serbia now thinks, would encourage Serbian politicians to do everything possible for Serbia and Kosovo (with the Serbian entity in it), and B&H,  to enter all into EU and NATO, because that is the best interest of Serbia, and in no way endangers Russia.

Taking this path, Serbia could, with the support of the West and Russia, be better able to achieve economic recovery and development and stabilization of its institutions.

Aleksandar Lojpur