Kosovo and Serbia
AT THE END OF THE ROAD
By Miroslav Filipovic
It is crystal clear to whoever saw Prishtina only once and spent
there a day only how much Kosovo sees itself is an independent state, how much its
citizens are intoxicated and exalted with their independence and what a fool Belgrade
makes of itself and of all of us.
Back in 2001 and well into 2003 the Zoran Djindjic cabinet - or at least
he personally - had a solution for the Kosovo question that was in Serbia's best interest:
the solution that implied not a long warfare, destruction, damage to national economy and,
most importantly, Serbia's international disrepute and impaired position. At that time
Serbia was at the threshold of the European Union for the second time in the past twenty
years and about to join the club of normal states and nations.Everybody knows that
happened then and turned the scale. Like in the Milosevic era, Kosovo once more became a
big voting machine and means for coming to power and holding it. Like in the Milosevic
era, the nationalistic Belgrade turned a blind eye to blood, sweat and tears of Kosovo
Serbs. All it has been caring for since was power and the moneys coming with it.
Everybody knows too well now that Kosovo will remain an independent
country and our new neighbor in the south, a country with a long and open border with
Serbia. Establishment of good neighborly relations with this country, whereby citizens of
Serbia could actively contribute to everyday life in Kosovo, is in their best interest.
Insterests of Serbia and its citizens in Kosovo are manifold. The state of Serbia and its
citizens have left enormous property over there. Public property and private property.
Serbia's major historical and cultural monuments remained in Kosovo. A considerable number
of citizens of Serbian and Bosnika origin remained in Kosovo. All these interestes are in
the hand of the government in Prishtina now. To be in the position to look after these
interests the government in Belgrade needs to develop good relations with the government
in Prishtina. Ministers from both cabinets should communicate daily, the President of the
Republic and the Premier should meet their colleagues in Prishtina on monthly basis to
discuss the problems their ministers was unable to solve.
This is not that hard as it seems from the angle of Serbia's cheap
nationalistic media and confused ministerial and presidential offices. What is certain and
what I am quite certain about is that a president of Serbia (whoever he might be) and a
president of Kosovo (whoever he might be) will soon have to speak to each other in the
same way they are now speaking with other presidents. I am also certain that - quite soon
in a historical perspective - it will make no difference whether a president of Rumania, a
president of Macedonia or a president of Kosovo pays a visit to Serbia. So it will be as
it cannot be otherwise. And how things stand today?
A regime in Serbia does whatever it wants to do anyway. And so, instead
of setting foundations for neighborly relations with its new neighbor, Kosovo, Belgrade
does all in its might to undermine Kosovo's movement towards stability and the rule of
law. It not only undermines it but, moreover, boasts at home and all over the world of how
sucessful it has been in it. Oh, well, wise men wear their horns on their breasts, fools
on their foreheads. And whatever they learned from Milosevic about the political use of
Kosovo seems to be of little avail. Serb nationalists cannot go for their strongest trump
card - a small-scale, limited but efficient warfare: a couple of days only, a handful of
casualties and a few churches in flames.
Wise men can hardly understand Serbian politicians' logic. Adventures of
Serbia's policy for Kosovo has been become, therefore, a course of study at several
prestigious political schools throughout the world. Students are taught by this example
about how much an irresponsible regime can harm its own country and people. This is about
a classical thesis known to every Serbian peasant: it is crucial for every good
husbandman, and every country for that matter, to live in peace and have decent
relationship with neighbors. And that's exactly a crucial task of every normal country's
foreign policy. Therefore, every normal country does its best to secure peace at its
borders and cooperatin with neighbors. Every country except for Serbia. For Serbia is not
a normal country and does not have normal and serious politicians. What Serbia does is
quite the opposite. It provokes and finances conflicts at its borders and tries at all
costs not to cooperate with its neighbor. So far such flying in the face of the whole
world has cost Serbs millions of Euro and reputation. And they will be paying the same
cost until Kosovo becomes a fully sovereign state. Then we might start paying by far
higher costs for all those follies at the borders. We have already experienced it too many
times. Too many times our young men have come home in plastic bags just because we were
unfortunate enough to have fools and ignoramuses in key officies.
And everything could be different. Belgrade should care more than anyone
else that Kosovo turns into a real state as soon as possible so that it could be a mentor
of sorts to this young state. Benefits would be manifold. Why shouldn't the Delta Company
open fifty-odd mega-stores in Kosovo towns? Why shouldn't Serbia's lame economy sell food
and other commodities to Kosovo the more so since it can be competitive in Kosovo only?
Why shouldn't Serbia build roads and rairoads throughout Kosovo? Or, say, apartments? Why
shouldn't Serbia supply Kosovo's craving market or profit from its icredibly cheap labor
force? Well, because for all this one should have more grey cells than available to us.
And Kosovo itself is another story. Kosovo pays no heed to Serbian
Foreign Minister's hymns of praise for his own humble self but moves forward and becomes,
day in day out, a better and better place to live in. With Europeans as its lawmakers
Kosovo administration has arranged many areas by far better than Serbia. And, to tell the
truth, there are things Serbia could learn from Kosovo. It is crystal clear to whoever saw
Prishtina only once and spent there a day only what a fool Belgrade makes of itself and of
all of us. In 2009, another eleven states recognized Kosovo and should this pace continue
in three years only Kosovo would have the magic number of ninety-odd states that opens the
door to UN membership. Everything will be over then, and Kosovo's and Serbia's teams will
be competing at equal footing at some European or world championship. Kosovo is in the
membership of International Monetary Fund for six months already.
On the other hand, Kosovo is still far from a sustainable state. True,
there are things it can be proud of but there are also segments that hardly qualify it for
a state. Economy is almost non-existent, as is production, import is bigger than export by
ninety percent. Kosovo is a very poor country. More than half of its population is
unemployed, 40 percent live in poverty, out of which 15 percent in extreme poverty. The
Kosovo government does not control the entire territory of the state and solely lives on
donor countries' subsidies. The energy sector is non-existent, while corruption is beyond
To all this, Albanians say, "So what?"
Kosovo is an independent state for less than two years. As the war drew
to its end, the Serbian army and the police devastated Kosovo. Almost all the houses were
torched, all the trucks, cars and buses taken to Serbia, tractors, combines and other
agricultural machinery left without oil, central and municipal achives transferred to
Serbia, pieces of art from Kosovo museums packed in aluminium containers and shipped to
Serbia. Because of this and because of Serbia's clumsy, stupid and harmful politics Kosovo
can exists and be recognized by major world powers. Because we are as we are, Kosovo has
all the time in the world to correct mistake by mistake and turn into a normal state,
slowly, at the pace slower than normal.
I can't tell why it is that so hard for Belgrade politicians to accept
and acknowledge the fact that Kosovo is an independent state, reality, and that pretending
otherwise is of no avail. Even before the International Court of Justice Serbian
politicians are trying to play tricks - so they say they expect all the countries to
reconsider their recognition of Kosovo in the event the Court rules in our favor. And,
should the ICJ by any chance rule against us, they say, Serbia would never ever recognize
The fact that the official Belgrade is the weakest link in the chain of
Kosovo problems is a blessing in disquise. Kosovo Serbs have seen through Serbian
politicians and realized that the future of the Serb community is in Kosovo and its
institutions. Those refusing to run away to Serbia gradually turn into loyal citizens of
the Republic of Kosovo. Of course, the process is complex and painful. Many years shall
pass away and many steps will be made to and fro before this becomes a reality - and this
will become a reality because that's the only alternative.