Monday

21st Jan 2019

Opinion

The EU and US should take power in Kosovo

  • Kosovo monument. Krasniqi: 'Hashim Thaci should teach European history in [an] elementary school' (Photo: CharlesFred)

Watching or reading and even writing news from Brussels about the western Balkans compared to being in the western Balkans yourself and seeing what is happening on the ground are two different things.

It would take pages and pages to explain the unbelievable-but-true story being played out here between foreign diplomats and their 'beloved' local leaders in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia.

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It would also take many pages to catalogue the failures, and just a few lines to note the successes, of these leaders since the end of the ethnic conflicts. But above all, it would take years and whole books' worth to make sense of the inter-albanian stupidities currently unfolding in Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia.

It is more fruitful to make instead one bold recommendation to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama: You should instruct your ambassadors in Kosovo to end the tragi-comedy of 'Kosovar democracy' and create an EU-US protectorate instead.

US ambassador Christopher Dell should become Kosovo Prime Minister. The other posts - president, speaker - are irrelevant anyway. The so-called Martti Ahtisaari plan, a quasi-Kosovo constitution, gives EU special envoy Pieter Feith supreme power on almost everything, from Kosovo's budget to whether Kosovars can hold a referendum on this or that subject.

The first thing the Dell government should do is send home all the leaders of Kosovo's Albanian political parties.

Let them do something useful for a change. Outgoing PM Hashim Thaci should teach European history in the elementary school in his native village of Broja, in the Skenderaj municipality. AAK party head Ramush Haradinaj, if acquitted for a second time by The Hague, should be a security guard in the elementary school in his native village in Glloxhan, in the Decan municipality. The new leader of the LDK party, Isa Mustafa, should run the finances of the Pristina hospital and make sure there is money to heat the place 24 hours a day. Bujar Bukoshi, the former health minister, should go to his native village of Bukosh, in the Suhareka municipality, and honour his urology diploma by practicing circumcision. Begjet Pacolli, the leader of AKR party, should help - gratis - Kosovo manufacturers to sell products to Asia and Russia.

As for the new Dell government, it should be extremely careful on Serbian demands on the ethnic-Serb-dominated north of Kosovo. Serbia fully controls this territory. But should it become a second Republika Srpska (on the Bosnian power-sharing model) or a second South Tyrol (shared by Austria and Italy)?

The Dell government should also sell to private hands all of Kosovo's main economic assets: coal, minerals and the PPK Kosovo telecoms company (the most profitable one).

For the sake of democracy, the EU and US should let Kosovo's citizens decide through referendums if they back these decisions. Let us honor both parts of this Greek word: demos (the people) and kratos (power). Let us have a real government that respects the people. The Martti Ahtissari plan does not forbid this kind of referendum.

Kosovo belongs to its citizens, not to its corrupt leaders or indeed the kind of little ambassadors who come and go from the country each year. If there was a referendum on whether Kosovo should join the EU or become the 51st US state, the smart money would bet on the US option.

As for the other problems in the region - Bosnia and Macedonia - the EU and the US should beware of quick-fix solutions designed to free up their resources for Egypt or Iran. Unbalanced territorial deals and unbalanced deals on the rights of minorities that the EU and US are pushing these countries to implement are a boomerang for the Western powers.

Ethnic Albanians in Macedonia are already giving up hope on the EU-and-US-brokered Ohrid peace deal of 2001. Ali Ahmeti, the leader of the DUI party, the former ethnic Albanian guerillas, has quietly obeyed Western calls for patience. But Macedonian conservatives humiliate ethnic Albanians on a daily basis. And the 'second class' citizens feel pushed to the wall.

If Kosovo is partitioned on the Bosnia or South Tyrol model, ethnic Albanians in Macedonia will want their own South Tyrol or their own Albanian Republic of Macedonia.

The region would begin moving toward the EU and Serbia's nightmare scenario of a Greater Albania, or as I would call it, using EU vocabulary, an Enlarged Albania.

Once again as in the 1990s, the people of the western Balkans would suffer, and the EU would look feeble as a foreign policy player in its most intimate neighbourhood.

Ekrem Krasniqi is a Kosovar journalist living in Brussels. A frequent contributor to EUobserver, he is also the director of the DTT.net news agency on western Balkan affairs

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