In his last article in Blic newspaper, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic urged the Serbian society to start “an internal dialogue on Kosovo and Metohija.” And by saying this, he has opened a Pandora’s box. His article has caused serious controversy among the Serbs, and this is natural, according to Serbian experts, as the problem of the future of Kosovo and Metohija is vital for Serbia as a state.
In an interview to EADaily, Serbian political analyst, expert at the Belgrade-based Institute for European Studies Stevan Gajic said that unless expected, Vucic’s article would be really shocking. “But this is a consistent policy: since 2013, our government has been engaged in the so-called Brussels dialogue, which implies granting Kosovo attributes of a state, like borders, telecommunications, courts, cadasters, and forcing the Serbs to recognize passports, car numbers and other documents in that unrecognized territory. But neither we nor our compatriots in Kosovo and Metohija have received anything in exchange,” Gajic said.
He pointed out the fact that the article was published in mid-summer, when most of the Serbs were on holidays. “It was an attempt to feel the people’s pulse, to see how they would react. Until now, we have endured all kinds of humiliations but now we may lose a big territory. This is probably why Vucic wants first to feel our pulse,” Gajic said.
According to him, when inaugurated as President, Vucic swore an oath with his hand on Serbia’s Constitution, a document saying that Kosovo and Metohija are an inalienable part of Serbia. “This is the heart of the matter. The issue of Kosovo is the issue of Serbia. The countries that have recognized Kosovo’s independence do not recognize Serbia within its constitutional borders. And should our authorities decide to deny their own state by recognizing Kosovo, that would be a signal for Serbia’s neighbors and, perhaps, even for separatists inside the country that Serbia can be divided. So, even if somebody tried to amputate Kosovo from Serbia, that would be impossible unless he killed the whole state,” Gajic said.
According to him, Russia faced a similar situation during the Chechen wars. “Perhaps, in terms of resources, it would have been better for Russia to let Chechnya go but that would have become a signal for all the other Russian regions that they were free to break away or that would have tempted some aggressive neighbors to claim some Russian territories. So, the Russians had no alternative to war and to the decision to keep Chechnya within their borders,” Gajic said.
“The policies implemented by the Serb authorities over the last five and more years have caused serious depression among the Serbs. As a result, the emigration rate is growing, while the birth rate is on the decline. Today, the birth rate in Serbia is as low as it was at the times of WWI,” Gajic said.
The key thing that alarms the expert is that in his article, Vucic says that the conflict is not a political option for Serbia. “One of the key prerogatives of a sovereign state is the right to use force, to declare war and to make peace. I am not calling for a war, God forbid! I mean that de jure any state has such a right and must not renounce it - for by renouncing it, it denies itself as a state and shows its potential enemies that they are free to do with it whatever they like,” Gajic said.
The expert points out one more phrase used by Vucic: “The Serbs must have a head hot from constant thinking, a heart that is cold to excessive emotions.” “This phrase is aimed at changing the Serbs’ consciousness. I think this is an awful thing to ask your own people to lose their identity. In fact, Vucic wants the Serbs to stop being Serbs, to lose their essence, to forget their past. In his article, Vucic said that ‘to live means to love the country on which children are walking, and not just to boast with the victories of our grandfathers.’ As if these two things are not interconnected. The articles suggests that we must put aside their national myths. But Kosovo is not a myth! Speaking in metaphysical terms, we have inherited the ‘Kosovo testament from our ancestors so as to hand it down to our descendants. Even in the times of the Ottoman rule and the two world wars, when Kosovo was not ours, it still was the pivot of our identity. If we forget the idea that Kosovo is ours, we will stop being a nation,” Gajic said.
Director of the Belgrade-based Center for Geostrategic Studies Dragana Trifkovic has qualified Vucic’s article as commonplace and belated. “We should have talked about Kosovo and Metohija long ago and not now that the Brussels Agreement is signed (in fact, we don’t even know what exactly that document says), that a border is drawn, that all the Kosovo-based Serbian institutions are closed and that Kosovo and Metohija are being ruled by an illegitimate regime. As you may know, the Serbian Progressive Party came into power exactly because it promised to cancel all the bad agreements the previous government signed on Kosovo. Former President Tomislav Nikolic swore that he would do his best to get Kosovo and Metohija back, but instead, his party went even farther than its predecessor did. Instead of organizing a public dialogue on Kosovo in 2012, they signed some documents in Brussels,” Trifkovic said.
Her conclusion is that at that time, our authorities did not want a dialogue because they knew that their people would not support them. “Now our authorities seek to share this responsibility with their people. But this is not possible. The problem of Kosovo and Metohija is vital for our state and it cannot be solved against our will, through some fake consensus. This problem must be solved in line with Serbia’s Constitution and the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1244 with the support of the forces that are trying to restore the law in the world. Brussels is not the right place for solving this problem, first of all, because, together with Washington, it has taken one side and is trying to cut Kosovo off Serbia. Today, the balance of forces in the world is changing and these changes are good for Serbia,” Trifkovic said.
“There will no longer be endless bombings for the sake of ‘democracy’ as the epoch of the unipolar world, where the United States enjoyed the right to act according to its economic, political and military purposes, is over. That right implied killings, coups and new borders. It is not time to cut Gordian knots (something Vucic calls for in his article), it is time to sober up and go back into reality. Unless we do this today, it will be late tomorrow. It is time for us to fight for our rights, for our land and for the future of our children. But not by dividing our country. We must realize that there is no loss, especially the loss of Kosovo, that can guarantee us bright future. There is no future without the past and Kosovo and Metohija are the spiritual basis of the Serbian nation,” Trifkovic said.
She added that one can’t solve a conflict by recognizing a criminal’s right to commit a crime. “Such decisions will not be effective or long-lasting. Any lie lives for as long as its guardian is alive,” Trifkovic said.
She is sure that things are changing. “So, our task is to be patient and to keep believing in justice. The Serbian authorities are impatient not because they think that early capitulation will give us a better life. They know that this is impossible. They simply have agreements with those who interests are different from ours,” Trifkovic said.
The expert believes that even if the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts respond to Vucic’s call and decide to share the responsible, nothing will change. “They will just prove that they are also ready to be ‘pragmatic’ and ‘cooperative’ and that their motives are the same. All this has been plotted for years by the authors of the plan to separate Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia,” Trifkovic said.
“The American K1 strategy, first exposed by WikiLeaks, has four phases. The first phase was to bring loyal ‘democratic’ government into power. The second phase was to lull Serbia’s vigilance. The third phase is to bribe the post-Kosovo Serbia with subsidies (the current phase!). And the fourth phase will be to integrate Serbia into the Euro-Atlantic camp. We have already seen how the Serbian Patriarch convinced the Kosovo Serbs to take part in Pristina-organized illegal elections. Those elections integrated them into the ‘Kosovo system.’ Likewise, President of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts Vladimir Kostic said that Kosovo is no longer part of Serbia and somebody had to make that known to the people,” Trifkovic said.
In this light, she quoted poet and scientist Matija Beckovic as saying, “If Kosovo is not ours, why are they urging us to give it.”
Serbia’s national interests are the concern of the whole people rather than some individual or party. If the Serbs are unable to see that Kosovo is being taken away from them and if they have no courage, will, strength, dignity, responsibility and readiness to resist this, nothing will help them – neither the law or justice nor Russia or China. Even God will be unable to help them. As Goethe said, only one vice is incurable – when a nation gives up,” Trifkovic said.