Albanians play the “Greater Albania” card over north Kosovo

The response of the Kosovo Albanians – who still want to win everything and reject any compromise over the north – to Serbia’s new “Kosovo Resolution” and the Platform is seeking to scare their international friends by raising the specter of Albanian irredentism.

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By Gerard M. Gallucci 

Recently, it has become possible to believe that the main Western countries supporting Kosovo independence – the Quint – are now reconciled to being unable to resolve the issue of the north through force. The EU and NATO have stopped trying to impose Pristina’s rule on the northern Kosovo Serbs and have instead stood aside to encourage direct negotiations. The post-Tadic government in Belgrade appears to be moving more briskly toward accepting the practical independence of Kosovo by setting aside the question of sovereignty (leaving it to both sides to see it as they wish) and offering to “normalize” relations through practical solutions to practical issues. Its new “Kosovo Resolution” and the Platform behind it offer a way to resolve the north in such a practical manner with a degree of local autonomy that goes a bit further than the Ahtisaari Plan. The Quint may be ready to accept such an outcome to finally shake the Kosovo issue off its shoes. This would not please the Kosovo Albanians who still want to win everything and reject the merest hint of compromise over the north. Their response – the one used successfully in the past – is seeking to scare their international friends back into line by raising the specter of Albanian irredentism.

The Kosovo Albanian side has often hinted that any effort to recognize the uniqueness of the north would lead to regional instability in the form of pressure from Albanians in southern Serbia and Macedonia. Now in the face of possible compromise, the Albanians are again sharpening their regional instability spears:

  • The Kosovo representative to the EU reportedly warned that with “Serb and Albanian enclaves in Bosnia, Macedonia and Serbia also aspiring to autonomy … any change to current borders in the region could threaten stability.”
  • The Self-Determination movement raised directly the quest for a “Greater Albania” with a call for Albania and Kosovo to become a “federation.”
  • The local Albanian majority government in Presevo erected a provocative monument to the “Liberation Army of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medveda” (UCPMB) – which fought for separation from Serbia – and dared the Serbian government to remove it while appealing for help to “internationalize” the issue as NATO did in Kosovo in 1999.
  • The so-called Albanian National Army (ANA) in Kosovo threatened armed action reportedly saying that it would “mobilize its members to defend against Serb threats to secede a part of the Kosovo territory and threats to forcibly remove UCPMB monument in Presevo.

This may be mostly bluster to see if it’s possible to scare the Quint. Belgrade would be wise to allow the monument to remain and thus not contribute to it remaining an issue. But provocations and threats of violence should not be allowed to close the door to compromise over north Kosovo. The Serb majority there has made it clear it will not accept rule by Pristina. No Serbian government can yet agree to recognize Kosovo independence. This leaves nowhere to go to settle the Kosovo issue except by the formula now on the table: Set aside the issue of recognition, keep the north in Kosovo but with increased local autonomy, reach status-neutral approaches to issues such as customs, property, telecoms and electricity. Let both Serbia and Kosovo prepare for the EU.

Now, if the two sides should at some point agree on an exchange of territories, Presevo for north Kosovo, why stop them? If the Albanians of Albania and Kosovo then decide to come together, why not? It would be dishonest and counterproductive for the Europeans to oppose the consolidation of a nation state just because they consider themselves “post-modern” and beyond all that. But threats of instability if one side doesn’t get everything it wants, should be clearly beyond the pale.

Gerard M. Gallucci is a retired US diplomat and UN peacekeeper. He worked as part of US efforts to resolve the conflicts in Angola, South Africa and Sudan and as Director for Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council. He served as UN Regional Representative in Mitrovica, Kosovo from July 2005 until October 2008 and as Chief of Staff for the UN mission in East Timor from November 2008 until June 2010.

To read TransConflict’s policy paper, written by Gerard and entitled ‘The Ahtisaari Plan and North Kosovo’, please click here.

 

25 Responses

  1. Mirel

    Even PM Dacic is more moderate than u Mr Gallucci when it comes to Serbia’s position.There are some people who are more serbs than serbs themselves,and the best expamples are Jeremic and Gallucci.

    …Dacic went on to say that Serbia “could discuss a seat for Kosovo in the United Nations, but in that case Priština has to give something too”….

    Serbs in North will get full economic authonomy in return for Kosovo to get UN membership and Serbia to get the EU date of negotiations.Serbia doesnt have to recognise Kosovo,Kosovo is in UN and North formally will ne under Kosovo sovranty.
    This is going to be the deal.Finally Dacic is speaking openly.
    I am sure that Gallucci will start screaming against Dacic as Jeremic does when it comes to Kosovo.
    FYI,Mr.Galluci Natyral Albania is already created.Great Albania is serbian term that u pro serbian advicers like to use every time.
    Пријатан дан!

    1. Fadil

      Mirel,

      Don’t be surprised. Everything Albanians do is “provocative” for Gallucci. I have long debate with Serbs in their forums and believe me Gallucci would be more attacked, for his statements as bigger Serb than Serbs, from many Serbs than Albanians do here. Of course everything has a price and that price would be seen once Gallucci achieves success for the North of Kosovo. As you can see, for him, only Serbs from northern Kosovo exist and only form them there is special treatment. Who cares for the others i.e more than half million of Albanians in Macedonia.

  2. shqipo-nyc

    What is Mr. Gallucci to do once Serbia and Kosovo reach an agreement on the North. It seems to me that this is the only thing that he can write about.

  3. Fadil

    “The Serb majority there has made it clear it will not accept rule by Pristina.”

    Yes Gerard, we know that. We know also that a Serb from Rahovec/Orahovac said in B92 studio, few years ago, that he didn’t want send his ailed wife to Kosovo health facilities because “in such way he would recognize Kosovo”.

    Latter on such people not only accepted to go to medical facilities and thus “recognizing Kosovo” but even participated in Kosovo elections so “formally recognized Kosovo independence”.

    No reason to be different with Serbs in northern Kosovo.

    1. Gerard Gallucci

      What heavy breathing comes from under the bridge without refuting my point on Albanian threats about regional instability. But let me just note that the Serbs south of the Ibar were given no choice. Kosovo authorities – with EULEX and KFOR standing by – turned off their electricity and phones while others used violence to cower them. In the north, such tactics have not worked.

      Just what would be wrong with going just a bit further than the Ahtisaari Plan to gain a peaceful compromise? What is the real agenda of those who want to subject the north to rule by the Albanian majority government of Kosovo?

      1. Fadil

        Gerard,

        The same would be applied to Serbs in the north, I mean making the situation with no choice for them as Serbia did with Albanians in Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvegja. Why not. This is very fair and just action. One thing applied for one group should be applied for another group. Why making privileges to a group, which doesn’t deserve at all s single privilege although a very good proposal was given. Such unfair approach as to giving privileges to a certain group while denying to the others doesn’t make situation any better.

        And you should understand once for all. Nobody is saying that Pristina wants ruling Serbs in the north. They may go in their schools and learn in their language and their curriculum. They may have their medical facilities, in all levels. They may govern in their local matters but no more. No more because it creates problems in all the region. These problems create instability and no one is interested in such instability. If for example Mr. Thaci would agree to giving more autonomy for Serbs in the North, while Albanians in Presevo valley don’t have even 5% of rights offered for Serbs, he would be treated as traitor from people in Kosovo.

  4. tim

    whats wrong with hese albanians and great albania there is only 2.3 million albanians in albania and 1.3 million albanians in kosovo and 50,000 in preshovo valley and 300,000 in macedonia and not even 30,000 in montenegro and they want a great albania with only just over 4 million people ,how pathetic there is 6.2 million serbs in serbia and 1.8 million serbs in bosnia and over 200,000 serbs in croatia and over 200,000 in montenegro and 60,000 serbs in kosovo and 40,000 in macedonia and 40,000 serbs in albania so thats a population total of over 8.5 million serbs in the area who should have a great anything would be serbia,but serbs are not terrorists like these albanians.

    1. Ben

      Tim, you’re facts are wrong mate! Do some research before showing everyone who reads this article how un-informed and ignorant you seem to be.

  5. PEN

    Allow me to be the first to comment before you know who and his cohorts start huffing and puffing about the Carpathians and all that. This impasse will only ever reach an acceptable solution when the maximalist demands of the Albanian side are driven into the ground for once and for all. Let’s assess reality on the ground as it stands today. You quite rightly point out that NATO will not subdue the Serbs of the north by force after last years shambles, and nor will they ever accept rule from Prstina. However the majority of Kosovo’s Serbian population still reside south of the Ibar. Special ties to Belgrade and entity status such as with the RS in Bosnia is the only solution. The Albanian extremists in Kosovo want nothing to do with the Serbian people. Their religion is some sort of fascist Albanianism where all others are excluded. It is brutal medieval and reactionary, but there it is and
    they will never change. The Presevo stone provocation is yet another example of attempting to drag the outside world in to wage war on your behalf. However I think the West is not prepared to play that game any longer. If Albania and Albanian Kosovo link up then so to will the RS and Serbia. The Americans are going to have to reign in their lapdogs or risk another regional conflagration. I don’t think they can afford that.

    1. Fadil

      PEN,

      Seems that you can give to people good ideas. No need to mention Carpathian Mountains unless somebody mentions Serbian medieval “state”. But lets go back to the topic. Those who don’t want Ahtisaari then should be offered normal rights i.e as other citizens of Republic of Kosovo, no more privileges, just equal as the others. This is pretty fair, isn’t it?

      So maybe the best solution is like this. Making gates 1 and 31 as normal border crossing where people pay customs and taxes. Close ALL “alternative passages” in the north and offer services to all of them willing to have such services.

      Seems like as much rights were offered more opposing is done. Why, for instance, Serbs in Montenegro don’t have even 10% of offer Serbs in Kosovo have and they don’t have claims? What are so special Serbs in Kosovo??

      Kosovo offered for Serbs positive discrimination so they have more rights than Albanian majority. What they want more??

      1. Phillip

        It is a complex issue. It comes as highly hypocritical though that you should argue “self-representation” in regards to Kosovo seceding from Serbia, and then argue “territorial integrity” when it comes to the North seceding from Kosovo.

  6. PEN

    Come on Fadil, there’s a huge difference between being a Serb in Montenegro, and a Serb in Kosovo. Those who see themselves as Crnogorci do not run around beating Serbs up or worse, and burning, looting, and desecrating Orthodox churches and cemetaries. Montenegrins do not prevent State officials from attending Xmas services and torture detainees in police cells on trumped up charges. Most Balkan police are rough, but yours take the prize for first class neanderthals particularly if you happen to be a Serb. And don’t tell me about what happened during Slobo’s time I’m talking about now, today. The laws and protection you speak of are useless unless you feel safe on the ground, eveyday free from harrassment and racial persecution worthy of the Third Reich.

    1. Fadil

      PEN,

      I thought you you got the lesson in case of cannibalism of Serbian mafia. Kosovo is not preventing at ALL any Serbian official entering into Kosovo when they FOLLOW PROCEDURE as it is the case in Montenegro. If Nikolic says “I want to go in Kosovo whenever I wish and I never ask Prishtina for that” he should then expect very right decision to stop his arrogance. Its very arguable situation with incidents in Kosovo while we know how “good” situation with Albanians in Serbia. Just imagine that Albanians in Serbia DO NOT have even 5% of rights granted for Serbs in Kosovo. Why Serbs don’t want these granted rights is their problem not that of Kosovo.

      Comparing Kosovo with “Third Reich” and this kind of staff just makes you more ridiculous than you are. Everybody knows who caused so many victims and sufferings in Balkans. Maybe you wish to change recent events but you can’t since the criminal past of Serbia is known very well and nobody believes that yesterday wolves became lambs. people, for sure, do not suffer from amnesia.

      So PEN I think if you wish success for your country you better see how to overcame very wrong politics of your country in last decades. I read yesterday vice president of chamber of economy of Serbia saying that “Serbia will need another 30 years to achieve the level of 1989”. Imagine what people like you did to your country, destroying its economy so it is 50 years backward.

      Your language is full hatred and just see what people like you did to your own people not only to the others. If you wish to destroy more your people just go ahead.

  7. PEN

    @fadil

    Your vindictive attitude shames you and invites ridicule. I speak of spiteful behaviour today. You dredge up the past and fantasise about dwelling in a civilised place far from the reality of where you actually are. Every time a contributor talks sense you respond with idiotic vitriol. Pitiful.

    1. Fadil

      PEN,

      I always promote equality between people and to the best of my knowledge doing that could be tho most fair activity. I never promote extremist and fascist ideas like yours. Unlike you I do not hate Serbs as you do with extreme hatred against Albanians.

      Actually such hatred language just makes me more than happy being in independent state from Serbia since there are many like you in Serbia.

      Nevertheless, unlike you, I will continue promoting equality between people so all groups of similar size must have EQUAL RIGHTS and NO PRIVILEGES to a certain groups since that creates problems..

      If you believe you say things which sense then I believe this word should be changed. I urge you to lower your hatred language or you may continues, as I said, destroying more your country and your people. Look around, even “little Milosevic”, as some people call Serbian prime Dacic, is becoming more and more reasonable man.

  8. PEN

    @Fadil

    You most certainly do not promote equality between people. Your absurd posturing on this website and obsession with responding instantaneously to Mr Gallucci’s articles belie extreme insecurity and an inferiority complex that would have Freud spinning in his grave. You paint yourself as some sort of hard-done-by liberal single handedly defending the honour of poor little Albanian Kosovo against all and sundry. Anyone criticising Pristina’s mono ethnic fascism is branded an extremist. You’re blind to the injustice and cruelty of your so-called ‘government’ and its determination to create a medieval construct called greater Albania. You refuse to comprehend that just as the Albanians rejected rule from Belgrade, the Serbs of Kosovo reject rule from Pristina. This whole debate is nothing to do with hating Albanians. It’s to do with hating what Albanian attitudes are towards the Serbs. You simply can’t grasp the difference. Your mentality is to take every criticism personally like some kind of blood feud. Losing that primitive mindset would be a start to involvement in a mature debate.

    1. Fadil

      PEN,

      Your emotional, fascist like style of writing, doesn’t change the meaning of world equality. Equality, in our case, means treating things in equal way in terms of size and certain condition. Kosovo, as an entity in ex YU federation, should have been treated equally when YU collapsed since it had ALL functions as other entities. Mixing rights of Kosovo, as an entity with state functions, with a minority group of people is not a just comparison. You may have problems grasping that but this is not my fault. Serbs in Kosovo, as minority group within Kosovo, may have claims as Albanians in Serbia, as minority group within Serbia. Nothing more and nothing less. This is absolutely FAIR and EQUAL treatment of people. This is fair and equal treatment as we are speaking for groups with the similar size and condition.

      If you believe that Serbs belong to special specie than you should prove that. Nobody is “branding” you extremist because you criticize Pristina but because of your hatred language with no bounds.

      But look “Pristina’s mono ethnic fascism”,which is so “fascist” that tolerates extremists, criminals, smugglers, and illegal structures in the north and elsewhere in Kosovo for years.

      “Tolerant” Belgrade can’t tolerate a statue of fighters who fought for rights of their own people, for just few weeks in Presevo.

      So this is the difference that you can’t see. This kind of difference can’t be seen only from people like you, blinded from their extremist and fascist attitude to everything which is not Serbian. So you believe that only for Serbs, some special right should be granted and not for the others. This is, for sure, fascist like way of thinking. This fits perfectly in what you call “primitive mindset”. So you primitive mindset should be adopted to that of 21st century and treat people in equal way.

      1. Daniel

        I’m sorry but your whole argument is based on historical misconceptions. Kosovo was always a part of Serbia. It was given a great deal of autonomy in the 70s by a Croat dictator who wanted to dismantle Serbia and make it as weak as possible because he knew that Yugoslavia only existed thanks to the Serbs (why was the se autonomy boy given to regions of Croatia and Bosnia where Serbs were the majority?). Kosovo was a majority serbian province until WW2 when it was given to the Albanians by their leader at the time, Adolf Hitler, in exchange for supporting him (SS Skanderbeg etc)- this is why your claims of Serbs being fascists is ridiculous the Albanians of Kosovo were actual, bona fide fascists while over a million Serbs died fighting fascists. Many Serbs were driven out of Kosovo or murdered at this time, not to mention other non-Albanian people. This was the first time Kosovo was majority Albanian. Indeed the oldest records of the region (Turkish) make mention of the area as being almost entirely inhabited by Serbs. You are just angry because you know everything you believe in is a lie, you know that the Serbs are in the right and, despite the efforts of countless enemies throughout history, they will regain control of Kosovo again. Kosovo is Serbia. As for your claims of Belgrade not being tolerant of the terrorist statues in presevo, do some more research, there a heaps, they just don’t want that trash in city centres. I also find it funny that you think murdering the police of the country you live in, just to perpetuate some irredentist ideology supporting greater Albania, is fighting ‘for the rights of their own people’. There is a world of difference between the Albanians in Serbia and the Serbs in Kosovo. For starters, the Serbs in Kosovo have Serbian citizenship and most have actively been a part of Serbian society, nobody asked them of they wanted to change the state they live in. The Albanians of Serbia are serbian citizens and have never been a part of Albania/Kosovo, in other words, if they don’t like it in their country (Serbia) they can leave. The land is not theirs to take though. So, now that I have educated you, I hope that you are less confused about the whole situation and can see how your entire post is rubbish and makes you look like an ethnocentric fool. This first lesson is free.

  9. Sir Giles

    This is a frozen conflict and will remain so until NATO pulls out or the balance of global powers shifts significantly. I do not see the region having a real peace until the differences are settled by the local players without imposed solutions. Serbs should be wise not bite the bait of the terrorist organizations (aka ANA) and Albanians should be wise not to lose the support of NATO with provocative actions.

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  13. Dan

    So, if republika srpska and serbia should wish to unite, ‘why stop them’ too? If the Serbs of Krajina and serbia want to unite (if the are ever allowed to return after being ethnically cleansed), ‘why stop them’? I seem to remember the west being very keen on stopping that from happening. Racists all

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