Kosovo, the new EU trampoline for Russia after Brexit

Analytics | Gurakuç Kuçi | 10-01-2019, 15:35

When Bismarck made the balance of power and realpolitik in Europe and the Eastern Courts (Tsarist Russia, Austria, Germany) for the Balkans, he was not interested in taking concessions for himself on the Peninsula. He just wanted to avoid splitting the coalition for Balkan reasons. For the Albanian issue at the Berlin Congress, Bismarck stated that “Albania is nothing more than a geographical notion”.

The Balkans was used as a trampoline for tribute for maintaining the balances of great powers. Whereas, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, after the Balkan wars, would save some of the territories of Albania, with the only geostrategic tendency, to prevent Serbs from coming into the Adriatic Sea because every port of Serbia was also the Russian port.

Even the First World War fires were to some extent fried in the Balkans. But utilizing the Balkans as a trampoline for the great power struggles remained a peninsula separate from the invasions and deep divisions that had created great powers since the Ottoman Empire, and even the communist and federations states.

The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the eastern communist bloc in the Western Balkans would be bloody. Serbia's military enterprise had the tendency to conquer all of the former Yugoslavia and the Western Balkans and make a massive cleansing in Kosovo. Slobodan Milošević’s actions, forced NATO to make a humanitarian intervention and remove Serbia’s military forces. Consequently, having no other better solution, Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008.

After the process of recognition from most of Europe’s countries and beyond, and especially from U.S. support, the Kosovo issue has now become a European trampoline to keep Russia on board, which depends on fuel and prosperous trade. In addition, Russia has found alternatives for its gas to China as the alternative axis China-Russia-Iran and India, where by 2025 Russia and India predict trade to reach up to $50 billion; this has enabled Russia to benefit more than it was able to earn 10 years ago in the geostrategic concession bazaar.

Russia's return to the game starting with the battle as a response to Kosovo in Georgia with the detachment of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, then Crimea from Ukraine and the war in Donetsk and Luhansk, when Ukraine and Georgia disclosed their NATO and EU aspirations EU, and with the controversy in Nagorno-Karabakh, with its successful aid to Assad in Syria, managed to get back to the international arena. Moscow does hold other important cards by not forgetting the war that involves Balkan countries, cyber warfare, tendencies to interfere in electoral elections and by holding the Russian “Trojan horses” within the EU itself.

From all this game, the battle lost in the Western Balkans by Russia, following the siege of NATO and its ally Serbia, Russia nevertheless surrendered and now wants a good strategic concession to maintain its interference in the region, always utilizing the European countries' approach to the equilibrium mentality in defection of American values.

Dialogue and reconciliation between Kosovo and Serbia was left to the EU, which calls itself the sole facilitator, but it is actually the main factor that pushes through this dialogue its interests with Russia, which makes Serbia beneficial.

Kosovo was forced to demarcate the border with Montenegro, where it provided nearly 9,000 hectares of land in the name of visa liberalization (the purpose was next, read below) but the promise was not fulfilled either. In his recent visit to Kosovo Commissioner Johannes Hahn said that visa liberalization could take place in 2020. Hahn’s visit came only after Kosovo imposed 100% import tax for Serbia’s goods in protest, as the latter did not adhere to the Brussels agreement, according to which it should not hinder Kosovo's integration into international organizations.

Kosovo, the new EU trampoline for Russia after BrexitDespite many agreements with Kosovo, Serbia attempted to lay an illegal train line with Russia’s help (the so-called “Russian train” with chauvinist inscriptions) in northern Kosovo and to split the north of Kosovo by wall, has hindered Kosovo's membership in international organizations, uses dumping policies to harm the Kosovo market, does not accept diplomas, license plates and any documents from Kosovo; and none of these actions is criticized by the EU which consistently tolerates Serbia. Serbia is even rewarded with visa liberalization, SAA chapters and EU funds although it is sitting on two chairs (Russia and the EU).

Kosovo is isolated and, aside from being asked to abolish the import tax and tolerate Serbia, is constantly criticized for any action that decides its citizenship. While Kosovo`s desire to create a small army with light weapons is criticized, Serbia is allowed to buy military aircraft from Russia without any problem.

Being under Russia's pressure, especially after the Brexit, the EU has found itself in a concessional part of Kosovo and therefore tolerates Serbia. The correlation could be then as following: taking Georgia to the West would sacrifice South Ossetia and Abkhazia, taking Ukraine to the West would sacrifice the Crimea, and bringing the West into the Western Balkans would mean Kosovo as the concession.

Under demarcation Kosovo gave Montenegro a strategic part that can be used by NATO, while in the north of Kosovo, the likelihood of demarcating boundaries with Serbia and of ceding the Panqiq peak and the Kopaonik range to Serbia, still under pressure from the EU, is realistic; there is also a military remote control built in the former Yugoslavia which has the capability to introduce under the amplitude of its entire Mediterranean and an adequate security point for Russia as a concession for other strategic parts of the Western Balkans.

Meanwhile, the EU has found itself in a complicated situation after the loss of its power because of the Brexit and U.S. policy on the one hand, internal divisions and democratic failures on the other. Moreover, Turkey and Russia as big powers also show their abilities to interfere with political developments in the Balkans, including Kosovo.

Kosovo as a buffer zone, a laboratory of peace and peace experiments between major powers, is experiencing continued contraction. Even though it has only a little over 10,000 km2, it gave a strategic point to Montenegro to be used by NATO; now ceding to Serbia the Kopaonik and perhaps even the entire northern part inhabited by Serbs, a land full of natural resources, in the name of the historical "correction" of the borders with the Preševo Valley from Serbia is speculated.

All this regression in Kosovo's international politics comes also to the very guilt of Kosovo, where politics is plunged into corruption. At the same time, the politicians, such as the President also need the EU, since they are easily manageable by threatening with punishment if they do not act according to the EU's wishes.

However, this lab (Kosovo) can break out of the wrong mixtures, and an explosion never fails anyone to know where the sparks scatter, which can also create new fireplaces.

If the "border correction" process does not stop, Kosovo is not granted liberalization and a clear European perspective, Serbia is not punished for violating in every way the rights of Kosovo's existence as a state (Kosovo's proclamation as a state was also legitimized by the Court International Justice), then Albanian dissatisfaction will be great throughout the Western Balkans and the first sparks have just started to feel in the Balkans.



About the author:

Gurakuç Kuçi is a doctoral candidate in the field of International Relations and History of Diplomacy at University of Tetovo in Macedonia. He is the director at the Independent Institute for Political and Media Studies in Kosovo and is the editor of Kosovo-based GazetaAlo. 

About the author:

Gurakuç Kuçi

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