Flores: War in the Balkans? ‘Redrawing Borders’ Fight Shows Major Conflict on Horizon

U.S Interferes in EU Attempts to Broker 'Win-Win' Kosovo Recognition by Serbia - 'Provocative Ultimatums'

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Whenever there is talk of redrawing borders between geopolitical entities, these precipitate or come as the consequence of a major war. Such is the scenario now in the central and west Balkans, as the Serbian government led by Vucic’s Progressive Party, proposes a redrawing of the de-facto map, that would see a land-swap. There is nothing war-like in Vucic’s proposal, rather his proposal hopes to cool-off the present Greater Albanian escalation. But the debate surrounding it reveals that the US plans to further hack Serbia down in size, as punishment for continued defiance. Russia, on the other hand, entirely supports all of Belgrade’s initiatives and right to defense. Moreover, this is a serious arms race presently underway. 

This comes as Vucic attempts to hold back the juggernaut of US interference in Eurasian affairs. Vucic’s rule so far, critiqued by his liberal opponents as corrupt and lacking transparency, and as anti-Serbian and even pro-American by nationalists, has for some time attempted to ‘ride two horses’ or ‘sit in two chairs’ – straddling a Pro-Russian and Pro-EU line, and has been as flexible with NATO as a country with an only $42 billion annual GDP can be. The long-game appears to be that eventually the EU and Russia will agree on Balkans policy that will come as the consequence of a forecasted warming of relations between these two powers. The gamble, or assessment, here is that US influence in Eurasian affairs is waning.

While this article focuses on the Greater Albania part of the brewing storm, this author has written previously on the Bosnia and Croatia part of this. In short, Serbia and Croatia are presently in an arms race, with Serbia being armed by Russia and Croatia by NATO. Serbia just in February began to enforce a new provision that all males turning 18 have to register for potential military service and training. The aim here is to increase the reserve pool by several orders of magnitude. Regarding Bosnia, under US and EU pressure, there is a push for Sarajevo to centralize its governance over the autonomous Serbian Republic, ‘Republika Srpska’ – with its capital in Banja Luka, not to be confused with the Republic of Serbia, with its capital in Belgrade, presently led by Vucic).

Lavrov announced in 2014 that if Sarajevo pushed to remove the autonomous status of the Republika Srpska, including the collapse of Srpska’s independent, and Serbia allied, paramilitary security force into Bosnia’s army, that Russia would support a referendum process which ultimately would see a rejoining of the two Serbias. Furthermore, Moscow questions the referendum process that saw Montenegro secede from Serbia (As does Belgrade) despite recognizing it, though Moscow would also support the same process in reverse – to rejoin Serbia, and moreover Moscow does not recognize Kosovo. The following map is one possible future Serbia, based on the socio-political proclivities of the populations in question, if Sarajevo begins a process which would be unacceptable to Banja Luka, Belgrade, and Moscow.

 

– The EU needs Serbia to recognize Kosovo if Serbia is to join the EU. But it’s also highly probable that Vucic doesn’t want Serbia to join the EU, at least not this EU. 

While Vucic nominally wants Serbia to enter the EU, he is adamantly opposed to Serbia joining NATO. This position drives a wedge between the increasingly deteriorating trans-Atlantic order. And ‘nominally’ isn’t placed in the preceding line at random. While Vucic has led the government – in Putin-style; first as Prime Minister and now as President – since 2012, there has been almost no substantive progress in Serbia-EU negotiations on accession. Of 35 chapters required for a total tentative agreement, only two have been closed – the easiest and least controversial areas: science and technology, and education and culture. This makes Serbia’s EU accession negotiations the least successful and slowest-going in the entire history of EU accession agreements. 

Therefore, US supported liberal critics, and electoral opponents of Vucic, in the embodiment of journalist Djordje Vukadinovic and US state department backed politician Vuk Jeremic, have consistently slammed Vucic for not being serious about EU accession. They make a very compelling case in this regard.

The United States is being criticized by both Serbian and EU leadership on the subject of a potential deal in which Serbia recognizes Kosovo as an independent state. This deal in-process is known as the ‘Platform’.

The idea, according to the BBC, “seems simple.”

“The Presevo Valley in southern Serbia, where the population is mostly ethnic Albanian, would join Kosovo.

In return, Serbia would re-establish full control over the majority ethnic-Serb area of Kosovo to the north of the River Ibar, which runs through the heart of Mitrovica.”, the BBC writes.

 

But governments representing the majority of the world’s population do not recognize the break-away republic of Kosovo. This view is shared by the Serbian government itself, which holds Kosovo to be an integral – though autonomous – part of the Serbian state. Kosovo today operates de-facto as a neo-colony and military base-of-operations for the United States in the central Balkans. On the local level, it is primarily administered by the state of Albania. The Kosovo project is a key component of the US backed ‘Greater Albania’ project developed in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR and during the destruction of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s.

The Vucic led government of Serbia, however, has in recent months floated a proposal in which Serbia would change its constitution to recognize ‘a’ Kosovo, but not without territorial concessions from the US-Albanian proxy state. This comes as a response to a rather provocative – and indeed meant to provoke – statement from ‘Kosovo’ leader Thachi, wherein Albanian ruled Kosovo is recognized and acquires three more Serbian regions.

Vucic’s response is a EU endorsed plan to encourage reasonableness, and involves effectively a ‘land-swap’, while officially recognizing most of Kosovo as independent, which today Serbia nominally claims all of. In short, Serbia would drop its claim on Kosovo in return for critical parts of Serbia where the Serbian majority or plurality still exists, not yet having been fully ethnically cleansed in the process of the US-backed Greater Albania project. These Serbian dominant regions of Kosovo are still at risk, and face continual harassment and national oppression from the Albanian side, backed by global hegemonic US imperialism.

Left to right: US appointed leader of ‘Kosovo’, Hashim Thachi; High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, Serbian President, Aleksandr Vucic

In the map above, however, we can see that there are still pockets in central Kosovo where the Serbs are a majority but wouldn’t fall under the land-swap agreement. Even Serbian critics of the Belgrade proposal have pointed out that this leaves no real good solution for the status of Serbs which remain in Kosovo. Absent from this above map, moreover, is the less-addressed issue of the many areas of Kosovo where there are high numbers of Serbs. For example, any area where Serbs were 49.9% of the population, would be depicted in ‘purple’ in the BBC produced map, and not reflect the actually inter-penetrated nature in which Albanians and Serbs live side-by-side.

Serbia recognizes and prioritizes the minority rights of Albanians, Roma, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Croatians, Macedonians, and Bosniaks who live in the Belgrade-controlled areas of Serbia. This is enshrined in the Serbian constitution, and given that Serbia often finds itself scrutinized, even overly so, by the Atlanticist media and its simulacrum of the ‘international community’, these minority rights are strictly observed.

These minority rights provisions are also a carry-over from the Socialist Republic of Serbia within the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where Serbs first and foremost, were held to the standard of ‘Yugoslav’ identity. These were mandated by the socialist government led by Josip Broz Tito, an ethnic Croatian.

Such is not the case in Kosovo, which enjoys special protective status by the US, which has supported a ‘Greater Albania’ policy on several regions of countries today not a part of Albania. This includes Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, and Serbia. This policy openly promotes a practice of ethnic cleansing and historical revisionism.

Over the course of the last dozen years, Serbia – the primary successor state of Yugoslavia – has seen itself twice more truncated in its Serbian incarnation. A dozen years ago, Serbia lost Montenegro (officially) and Kosovo (disputed), adding more regional problems and the promise for instability in the wake of the US-backed destruction of Yugoslavia in the 1990’s. The US promoted the rise to power of nationalist and ultra-nationalist governments on all sides, to create an internecine blood-bath. Serbia was caught ‘in the middle’ of pursuing an agenda simultaneously pro-Serbian but based partly on the territory of Yugoslavia, a policy that only fueled ultra-nationalist conspirology among Albanians, Bosniaks, and Croatians that the Yugoslavian state had all along been code for Serbian domination. Serbs point to the fact that socialist Yugoslavia was led by Tito, a Croatian, and moreover that while each of the national groups that composed Yugoslavia enjoyed their own republic status within the federation, the national groups of those republics who lived in the Socialist Republic of Serbia additionally enjoyed special rights and privileges not reciprocally enjoyed by Serbs in the republics of other national groups within Yugoslavia.

To clarify, Kosovo was a part of the Socialist Republic of Serbia, and unlike Croatia or Macedonia, for instance, was not its own republic in the federation. It appears that ultimately Tito had a long-term goal of integrating Albania into Yugoslavia – Kosovo was created in part as a ‘test subject’, in which Albanians in Albania would witness the superior economic situation enjoyed by Albanians in Kosovo. Tito encouraged emigration from Albania into Kosovo, creating a socially constructed imbalance to the previous ethnic composition of Kosovo. Kosovo is considered by Serbs to be the ‘cradle’ of pre-modern Serbianess, as Serbians were the largest ethnic group both in medieval times and in the years prior to Tito’s pro-Albanian policy on Kosovo.

While the US and EU together as NATO promoted nationalist extremism among Croatians, Bosniaks, and Albanians to carve out ethno-nationalist states from the collapsing Yugoslavia, and while Serbia also nevertheless was led by a nationalist government – Serbia uniquely had the ‘enlightened’ self interest of protecting minority rights for the reason that Serbia needed to maintain their legitimacy – towards the aim of keeping ‘a’ Yugoslavia together – with peoples Serbia hoped would become protected national minorities within a secular and larger, multi-ethnic Serbia. These aims were decreasingly realizable in the aftermath of the NATO bombing of Belgrade in the spring and summer months of 1999, in which thousands of civilians were killed.

Serbia consequently increasingly looked to its ethnic-Serbianess for national identity and Christian Orthodoxy as a counter-weight to the radical pseudo-Sedevacantism of Vatican promoted Nazi-apologetic Catholicism in 80’s and 90’s era Croatia; and the Saudi, Wahhabist radical Islam of Bosniak dominated Bosnia.

Flash forward to recent months, the US has back jumped into the fray again, and has introduced ‘impossible conditions’ that would make any final peace and recognition deal possible, on the basis of the Belgrade initiated ‘Platform’. The US has created its own ‘false’ Platform which it has confused the global media about, since it bears the same name as the Belgrade initiative – a problem this report will explore in-depth below.

While the US recognizes that the “Mutual recognition of Kosovo and Serbia is a key component of the comprehensive agreement between Belgrade and Pristina”, in the words of Deputy Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale, the US is supporting terms that Serbia can never accept, and which drive a further wedge between the EU and Serbia.

“We believe that Kosovo is facing a decisive step, and that it is moving towards a fairer and more prosperous future. A comprehensive agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, beneficial to both sides, is a way to achieve this future, where mutual recognition plays a key role, ” was a highlight in Hale’s statement to the press after meeting with Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramos Haradina , President Hashim Thachi (alternately, ‘Thaçi’)and the “Speaker of Parliament” Kadri Veseli on March 9th.

But Hashim Thachi is widely recognized, even by mainstream western journalism and research, as the ringleader of a criminal organization which built a power base on illicit drug smuggling, white slavery and forced prostitution, and the related human trafficking. Much of the real story behind the problematic ‘Pizza Gate’ narrative, where certain truths were concealed behind a more conspiratorial and sensationalist click-bait story, in fact involved viewing Serbians – especially women and children – as the ‘spoils of war’.

In addition is the infamous ‘Yellow House’, where Thachi’s organization ran a human organ harvesting operation – civilians being ethnically cleansed as well as prisoners of war were ultimately handed premature deaths on operating tables as their vital organs were extracted from their living bodies, and sold on the international black market – largely to EU and US citizens awaiting organ transplants from donors.

Few recipients understood that these organs were taken on the condition of murder and the vivisection of living human beings, held captive. These were not isolated cases, but an industry of scale where thousands of Yugoslavians/Serbs were exterminated.

Which Platform? The Platform Controversy

Regarding Vucic’s attempt to reach a break-through on the present territorial stalemate, according to Hale, the United States does not supposedly adhere to any particular position on what the outcome of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina should be. This result will be determined by the “peoples of the two countries” through their leaders and “other democratic means,” the State Department spokesman said.

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“I would like to emphasize that Kosovo and Serbia should make the decisions necessary on this path and choose the topics to be discussed at the negotiating table. But we believe that it is necessary to take a flexible approach and come to recognize and sign a viable agreement that will contribute to regional stability, ” said Hale.

Hale’s remarks, while piggy-backing onto a conversation underway, do not however reflect Serbia or the EU’s original proposed ‘Platform’. The US has inserted its own ‘Platform’ and have thus confused the dialogue – when leaders or media refer to the ‘Serbia-Kosovo Platform’, it is now unclear which platform is being referred to.

To wit, Hale refused to answer the question of whether the United States supports the so-called demarcation or exchange of territories. “I don’t want to comment on the rumors, it’s clear that the two parties must reach an agreement on what is needed to normalize relations and mutual recognition, beneficial to both parties. Such an agreement will be supported by the USA, ” the representative of the US Department of State noted.

The reality however is that Kosovo and Albania do not have sovereign foreign policies – their policies are directed by the United States. Therefore, Hale’s statements are more than a simple case of interference, they are – in real time – the formulation of what Albania and Kosovo’s response to the Serbian ‘Platform’ proposal will be.

It is therefore disingenuous for Hale to state that the US will support whatever Serbia and Kosovo agree to – the US will not allow Kosovo to enter into any normalizing agreement with Serbia which sees any territory exchange, even if by its recognition by Serbia, Serbia will become a smaller state de-jure.

The matter is even more complex than this, and reveals the intricacies and horse-trading involved in geopolitics and diplomacy. Serbia has engaged in its policy on Kosovo with the full support of Russia among others, who do not recognize Kosovo and have clarified that it will support any decision that is acceptable to Serbia.

Under Russian and EU advisement, as the gulf between the EU and US policy widens, Vucic has made a proposal termed the ‘Platform’, endorsed by both Russia and the EU, which Serbian, EU, and Russian experts and advisers knew from the start would be unacceptable to the United States.

The US controls Albania’s and Kosovo’s foreign policy, but Russia, Turkey, and the EU are attempting to transform the Balkans into a co-prosperity zone. The cornerstone of this is the South-Stream energy project, now including Turkey and known today as TurkStream. Looking into the deeper future the Balkans would form the central joint of any broader long-term Eurasian integration involving Turkey and its former Ottoman states of the Balkans; Russia – whom Balkans peoples are more culturally and religiously close to; and the EU, which until recently had the most economic prowess and ability to penetrate Balkans markets.

Stopping the Eurasian integration process has been the primary goal of US foreign policy for over 100 years, and is based on geostrategic theories of heartland and rimland, as well as sea-powers vs. land-powers. The US, inheriting its position from England, sees itself as a sea-power, while geographically and in its own right, could just as well transform into a land-power exercising hegemony over Latin America, and which doesn’t interfere in Eurasian and MENA region matters.

This leads us to understanding the confusing use and abuse of the ‘Platform’ proposal, originally initiated by Belgrade. This comes, however, with an understanding that the present Serbian government nominally supports EU integration, but the EU has held as an ‘unofficial’ position that Serbia should recognize Kosovo as a pre-condition for EU integration.

The US has taken an increasingly anti-EU position, leading some analysts and experts to conclude that even the Catalonia moves in Spain, and the Brexit movement in England, were in part supported by the US as attacks on the EU which have the aim of bringing EU position more in-line with Washington’s on the subjects of Russia, China, and Iran. This does not mean that Catalonia independence or Brexit in England are not without their own internal logic and popular support.

The Future Maps of the Balkans – Peace, or War for Greater Albania?

The US’ interference in the ‘Platform’ process, has led to the US inserting its own ‘Platform’ – with the same title – into the mix. This has led to significant confusion, and led to Serbian president Vucic himself confusing the two.

Several days ago on March 7th 2019, the “parliament” of the separatist Kosovo region of Serbia, accepted a ‘Platform’ for negotiations with Belgrade, which the Serbian leadership erroneously regarded as ‘proof’ that Pristina “does not want to prolong the dialogue”. Whether this conflation was accidental or intentional remains to be seen – there are reasonable arguments for both interpretations. If intentional, it would show to the Serbian public that Vucic is engaging in successful diplomacy, and also forces the US/Albania/Kosovo side to ‘clarify’ that ‘your Platform isn’t ours‘. In fact, these conflations are related to the previously mentioned layer of intrigue. Serbia and Russia are well aware that Serbia’s Platform proposal is unacceptable to the United States.

The map to the left shows what the next phase of Greater Albania will look like, based on two assumptions: that Vucic’s proposal is agreed to by the US, and if the present pro-Albanian moves in Macedonia go un-checked. 

But such a Platform, involving a de-facto land-swap, and a de-jure recognition of Kosovo by Serbia, makes the Serbian government appear more than reasonable, while shifting the burden of narrative construction and the appearance of unreasonableness over to the United States and its Albanian and Kosovo proxies.  Lauding the brilliance involved on the Serbian side led by Vucic, if such an interpretation of the deep-politics involved here is in fact the case, was expressed previously by the Serbian-Canadian political analyst and journalist, John Bosnitch – who nevertheless is a moderate critic of the Vucic government.

But the US version of the ‘Platform’ is what the Kosovo “parliament” endorsed.  This unacceptable platform contains 11 principles, on the basis of which representatives of Albanian separatists will conduct a dialogue with Belgrade on the “full normalization of relations”. Among other things, it provides for mutual recognition of separatist Kosovo and Serbia within existing borders, as well as the abolition of UN Security Council Resolution 1244. However, UN Security Council 1244 contains more than the simple recognition that Kosovo is Serbia. By itself, nevertheless, the US and prior EU moves which in fact recognized Kosovo as an independent country, is in violation of UNSC resolution 1244, no matter how creatively the resolution may be otherwise constructed by legal experts.

The map to the left shows, based on US memos, leaks, and independent assessment, is the Greater Albania map of the future

Based on the fact that the US and NATO have undertaken independent military operations on the sole foundation of UNSC resolutions – and broad and loose interpretations of said resolutions at that –  a country like Russia, for instance, would be in its rights today to launch a military operation to enforce UNSC 1244, and rejoin Kosovo with the rest of Serbia.

The false ‘Platform’ document adopted by the “Kosovo parliament” states that creating conditions for the membership of the separatist state in the Council of Europe, the EU and the UN is a political priority. Serbia is required to stop all actions aimed against the recognition of the independence of Kosovo by foreign states and to prevent its entry into international organizations. The guarantors of the false “Platform” would be Belgrade and Pristina, and backed by the EU and the US.

Hence, this false ‘Platform’ becomes erroneously referred to in less-than-careful journalism and reportage of the false ‘Platform’ as the ‘Belgrade-EU-Pristina Platform, since hypothetically it would have to be endorsed by all these parties to come into effect. This is extraordinarily misleading, because Belgrade has not endorsed this false “Platform”.

The false “Platform” document also provides for the formation of a court that will consider “Serbian crimes in Kosovo”. The natural resources of Kosovo, including Lake Gazivod, where the hydropower plant of the same name and the Trepcha mining plant are located, should be part of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Kosovo.

 

None of this is contained in the original EU, Russia, and Serbia endorsed Platform, which contrary to this, involves a land-swap agreement.

Complicating matters, the EU – whose policies are still to a considerable matter disproportionately influenced by the US – appeared also to conflate the two Platforms, and has used the term ‘Platform’ to describe both – entirely different – proposals.

Serbian President Alexander Vucic has been abundantly clear, and said that Serbia will not agree with Pristina’s ultimatum and “its Western curators”. According to Vucic, the European Union has deceived him by promising that the platform adopted by the Kosovo “parliament” will not even become part of the agenda. As the President of Serbia stated, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini six months ago said that the adoption of such a platform would be a disaster for Serbia and all the Balkans.

“I was promised that the platform would not even be on the agenda of the Kosovo“ parliament ”- not that it would not be accepted. They deceived me, but first of all they deceived themselves,” the Beta news agency cites Vucic.

For Pristina, recognition of its independence by Belgrade is the only possible outcome of the negotiations on “normalization of relations”, which are conducted through the mediation of the European Union. At the same time, the “president” of the separatist Kosovo, Hashim Thachi, earlier put forward the idea of ​​“border correction”, which implies the joining of three municipalities of southern Central Serbia to Kosovo (Presevo, Medvedža and Bujanovac), see map below. Meanwhile, the “Prime Minister” Ramush Haradinaj insists on confirming the borders of Kosovo as they are now.

Serbian President Alexander Vucic insists on a compromise solution, which, in his opinion, may be the demarcation of Kosovo. Although Vucic himself did not specify what exactly this “delimitation” should imply, this idea is discussed in the media as a kind of exchange of territories.

  • Published on: Mar 11, 2019 @ 19:09

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