The Kosovar End Game

By Geoffrey Cook, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)

About a month ago, I talked to the Stanford Professor and Hoover Institute Fellow Serge Trikovic. I found it strange to find a Serbian-American academician expertly trained in Islamic culture. Actually, I found his talk to be quite interesting – after all he had spent part or his career wit the BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation), and he expressed himself well.

What he talked about was the Serbian (but populated by ethnically Albanian – Muslim) Province of Kosova. I felt his background was strong until the very end when his cultural and sectarian prejudices came forward. The United States, the European Union (E.U.) and the U.N. are pushing for an international resolution to grant Prstina (the capital of the Kosovars) its independence. The former President of Serbia had agreed to U.N. Resolution 1244 while he ruled from Belgrade, but he was overthrown by his own people, and transported to the International Court in the Hague (a city in the Netherlands) to stand trial for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity where he died during his trial; thus, the Declaration has not been filled to this day. There is a general sense here in the West that independence is inevitable. The so-called Crisis Group, a collection of major nations, also, supports Kosova’s self-government.

Kosova is overwhelmingly Albanian (not to get it confused with Albania, the free neighboring Republic, who are, also, Albanians by nationality and culture, too). Particularly, after sectarian violence done to the Muslims in the Balkans, Kosova has a right to independence as Orthodox Montenegro has been granted from the Central government of Serbia through democratic elections. The other minority ethnicities are who are mixed with the Kosovars are the Turks, Bosnians and Serbs. Of the three minorities, the Turks and Bosnians are mostly Islamic, too, and could probably work their differences out without to much cultural tension. Of the three lesser racial clusters, only the Serbs have an Orthodox Christian majority. (What divides Balkan people is religion rather than language – like in Northern and Southern India, the languages are mutually understandable, but written in different scripts. One of the ways that the Albanians differ is that their language is not mutually understandable without study. Thus, there is a dramatic difference from their Balkan neighbors.)

The current Serbian Prime Minister has said that they should not be bound by legalities. Russia and China – although both have noticeable Islamic populations –demand that Kosova should not be permitted liberty without the agreement of Belgrade. The only Serb Party that would currently support autonomy is the Liberal Democratic. Russia stands against it, for it would establish a precedent for their Muslim provinces. Moscow is playing hardball! Saint Petersburg has deep interests over the Balkans. “Putin requires popularity more than ever now.” The Kremlin wishes to pull the puppet strings from behind the curtains! Although Pristina feels that a sovereign for them nation is a done deal at the end…at [the] day,” the Serbs refused to let them go from the greater Serbia in a decision made two weeks ago. Without the support of the Russian Federation, “The U.S. can’t be a mythic leader” in that part of the world.

Although E.U. has been expanding for several years now, they have been resisting involvement in the Southern Balkans because of the regions’ perplexities. The European Union refuses to recognize the Kosovars without the U.N.’s nod, for the prototype would create ipso facto European interests in the area and within their bodies. “There is neither a carrot or a stick Kosova. Consequently, the tiny nation finds itself in a hard way.”

I asked him whether Partition was an option. He thought it was not, for he felt it would be unacceptable on all sides. Yet the Muslim Albanians are the overwhelmingly residents in preponderance, and two of the three minorities are co-religionists.

Trikovic’ chauvinism comes forth when he claims that the Kosovars cannot get by without their Serbian big brother (oppressors). Yes, it would be a challenge; for it is one of the poorest countries on the Continent, and Belgrade has it totally landlocked making it easily to blockade at the will. Yet Montenegro is making a success with their self-rule from the Serbs. After all, “No boundaries are ever permanent.” Pristina and Belgrade are intertwined with each other through economics and history, as is the small Montenegro. There are many options for the Muslims of the Southern Balkans. Serious negations are requisite for working out solutions for another Islamic state in the South of Europe to succeed. Dr. Serge Trikovic suggests a Northern Ireland-type resolution. This can only take time, though. He, also, maintains successful consultations would bring this part of Europa’s history forward for the better by sixty-five years.