Intervention of H.E. Alfred Moisiu in the EUME ILC July-August 2022: Tirana Session 7

(N.B. This is a translation of the original text in Albanian and make contain inaccuracies.)

Esteemed participants.

Dear Ambassadors for Peace.

We have gathered often this year to discuss the security issues in our region and, it must be said that we are not in the wrong. This shows that we have a great and just worry, rather than just a conjecture.

The fact that the war (now in its 5th month) started in Ukraine without any convincing reason, where people are killed and destruction is spreading, shows that the European security scheme, built with so many sacrifices after World War 2, has crumbled.

No one can say what happened when. Everything is being subjected not to reason and rules, but rather to the destructive decisions of the rulers of authoritarian nations.

This should seriously worry us, what can happen with our nations and especially with our region.

Based on these circumstances, it is imperative that the EU analyze the situation even more seriously and in a timelier fashion.

Analyses concluded after the fact serve more for historical purposes rather than for the resolving of problems in the proper time.

It is our duty therefore, no matter what the consequences may be, to say things as they are and as we feel them, so that we can take the necessary measures to prepare for what may come.

I think that this is allowed us not only because of the contributions we have made to this country, but also because of our age and the respect we have for our fatherland, as well as peace and security.

It is known that after what happened to Ukraine, the weakest link in all the European hemisphere is the Balkans.

Exactly in this region some things should be seriously re-evaluated and corrected, in order to avoid the elements that clearly are not in accordance with the up-to-date developments.

In the Balkans, we have two pressing issues, Bosnia and Kosovo, which if not properly evaluated can bring about a second Ukraine, especially as Russia would not only be interested in such a development, but also it has been working for a long time now to achieve this, helped in this sometimes openly and sometimes surreptitiously by Serbia and the “Republika Srpska”.

A concrete example of this is the latest occurrences after the decision of the Kosovo government in regard to the issue of reciprocity, when immediately in North Mitrovica barricades were erected and armed bands came out into the open.

The Kosovo government however, based also on the advice of the allies, was prudent in temporarily suspending the enactment of reciprocity towards Serbia.

Is Putin starting a new war in the middle of Europe?

The fact that there are tensions between Serbia and Kosovo is not something new. What is new however, is the aggressivity with which Belgrade is following its fantasies for the dominion of their ex-province.

A few days ago there was an exchange of fire between the Kosovo police and armed groups along the border with Serbia. Immediately after this, sirens of an aerial attack were heard in the northern half of Mitrovica dominated by the Serbs. Bells rang in the churches of this area too.

A few hours prior to this, a member of the ruling party of Serbia declared that Serbia is “Obliged to start the de-Nazification of the Balkans”. This is exactly the argument that Russia declared in February 2022 to justify its attack on Ukraine.

The foreign affairs ministry of Russia continued in the evening too. In their declaration, it said that the confrontations are “one step away from the displacement of the Serbian population from Kosovo”.

All European countries speak of their concerns about the current situation, but one thing is clear, the non-recognition of Kosovo by some European countries.

Regardless of their arguments, it is my opinion that, from a European standpoint, these countries can no longer allow themselves to not recognize the country of Kosovo; this is now required by the current situation.

As I mentioned before, this example should be given by the European Union member states themselves. In actuality though, the opposite is happening. Baseless therefore is the position of the Spanish Prime Minister, who in a joint conference with Aleksandar Vučić, president of Serbia, said that “We support Serbia on the Kosovo issue. Spain is and will always be with Serbia in the protection of this principle”, while at the same time he called unlawful the declaration of Independence of Kosovo. This was said even though the Independence of Kosovo was recognized by the International Court of Human Rights in Hague, with 10 votes for Kosovo and 4 votes against, thereby refusing the request of Serbia that Kosovo not be recognized as an Independent country, due to breaches of International Law.

In this light, therefore, I believe that some appointments in the conflict-resolution missions are wrongful, when these individuals belong to countries that don’t have the necessary understanding of the importance of the resolution of this conflict. To this point then, how is it possible for a Slovak to mediate in the recognition of Kosovo, when their country does not recognize its independence. Therefore, clearer actions on the part of the EU are necessary, including pushing Serbia to achieve significant steps forward in the reconciliation process.

Nationalism, especially the rural kind, should be fought in a more organized manner by the political leaders of the region. However, this can only happen if these leaders are less focused on votes, and more focused on the protection of parameters that require more of a feeling of responsibility to have greater stability, rather than just their victory in electoral campaigns. It is necessary therefore, for the political leaders of the region to be more responsible in the fulfillment of their duties.

It is true that the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo is slow, but what is worse is that the main leaders of Serbia state explicitly that “this cannot happen”, whilst sometimes hinting that a compromise is needed, though very unclearly and at Kosovo’s expense.

Chancellor Scholz has declared that “it is necessary for the relationship between the two countries to be normalized, and in the end to have mutual recognition”. This therefore is what can be called a solution of compromise, so that both countries may have the right to strive to achieve accession to the E.U.

Another concern is the inflammatory rhetoric. One party leader calling on the youth to take up guns is Bakir Izetbegović (leader of the biggest Bosnian Party, SDA).

“This country is like a porcelain plate; such rhetoric must not be used, especially taking into consideration the war in Ukraine”, said Christian Schmidt – the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, who has an important role: the overseeing of the implementation of the civil aspects of the Dayton Peace Treaty of 1995.

In the meantime, the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, in the evening swore in front of his whole country that we should prepare for a possible war against Kosovo: “The crisis is deepening; Serbs will no longer tolerate cruelty. We don’t want war, but if this continues, Serbia will win” said Vučić in an urgent speech on the state national TV.

The problem is that there are about 4000 NATO soldiers positioned in Kosovo, including 400 from Germany. A Serbian war against the government in Pristina would be tantamount to a war against NATO, and in this way a major military conflict in the middle of Europe would start.

This would be exactly what Putin wants, so as to divert attention from his cruelties in Ukraine, while making Europeans even more tired of the war.

On Monday morning there were signs of relaxation, after the Kosovo government stated that it would postpone for a month a new rule that would force people in majority ethnic Serb areas to swap their Serbian-issued car number plates for Kosovan-issued ones when passing the border.

“All the more often it seems that Serbia will be forced to start the de-Nazification of the Balkans. I wish I was wrong” – writes in Twitter the Serb member of parliament Đukanović.

It is well known that the relationship between Serbia and Russia is profound, and the danger of the conflict in Ukraine spilling over into other parts of Europe, including the Western Balkans, could come exactly from this relationship.”

Therefore, there are many reasons why Serbia represents a danger to stability and peace in the region. First of all, the refusal to condemn the Russian aggression and impose sanctions towards Russia, whilst using the same menacing language that preceded the war in Ukraine.

NATO has reacted to the security situation in the north of Kosovo, by emphasizing that KFOR is monitoring closely the situation in cooperation with local and international security organizations.

In this situation, the peaceful voice of the leadership of the Balkans regarding the situation in Kosovo, in the Balkans region and beyond, must be strengthened.

God help us from a further worsening of the situation.

Thank you!

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