As the world focuses on the Middle Eastern and Korean flashpoints, the next war may not occur in either region, but rather in a replay of an old conflict that has been largely forgotten.
In an interview with Politico’s European edition, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama threatened war if Kosovo is denied entry into the European Union:
“Albania’s prime minister said a union between Albania and Kosovo cannot be ruled out if EU membership prospects for the Western Balkans fade.
“In an interview with Politico … Prime Minister Edi Rama said Europe would face ‘a nightmare’ if the Balkans ‘go crazy’ because EU accession is off the agenda, with the region becoming a ‘gray zone in which other actors have more influence than the European Union.’”
What does Rama mean by “go crazy”? Sounds like war to me. And that would clearly be the result of a merger between Kosovo and Albania, which Rama is threatening. Serbia would quickly act to ensure the safety of Kosovo’s beleaguered Serbian minority, in that event: and Russia, standing behind Belgrade, would back the Serbs.
The reluctance of the EU to admit both Kosovo and Bosnia is rooted in the brazenly undemocratic practices of these two thugocracies, where political violence, election fraud, and open corruption are routine.
Since the Kosovo war in 1999, a pan-Albanian movement that seeks to create a “Greater Albania” has spread throughout the region. In supporting Kosovo’s drive for independence, attacking the former Yugoslavia in the process, the US actively supported this movement both militarily and politically.
Now it is coming back to haunt us, threatening a replay of the Balkan conflict. In Kosovo, the biggest opposition party is determined to hold a referendum on unity with Albania, despite an explicit prohibition of this option in the country’s constitution. In neighboring Macedonia, sporadic terrorist activity by Albanian separatists has posed a threat to the unity of the country. In Bosnia, where the Muslims dominate the “multicultural” state, the Serbian minority seeks independence. And in Montenegro, they make demands for autonomy alongside a radical fringe advocating for “Greater Albania.” Not even Greece, portions of which are claimed by the Albanian ultra-nationalists, is immune. In short, the Albanian minorities across the region – radicalized by ultra-nationalist ideology – are a destabilizing factor.
Rama is threatening to, in effect, annex Kosovo and create a “Greater Albania,” a move that is certain to ignite a conflict with Serbia, which seeks to protect what is left of the Serbian minority in the northern part of the country. He told Politico that such a union isn’t “my wish but a possible alternative to the closed door of the European Union.”
This is outright blackmail: give us EU membership or the specter of war will once again be raised in the volatile Balkans: As Rama put it:
“The only way to keep the Balkans in this peaceful and cooperative mode … is to keep the path to the EU open, to keep the perspective clear, to keep emotions about the EU positive. No one would like to turn [in] on themselves and look for smaller unions, everyone would like to unite in the big union. But if there’s no hope, no perspective, no space, then, of course, little unions may happen.”
The Serbian response was swift and unambiguous:
“Serbian officials warned on Friday of another war in the Balkans if Albanians try to form a joint state with Kosovo in the war-weary European region and the West does not reject such a plan….
“Serbian government minister Aleksandar Vulin said he expects the EU and NATO to denounce such statements, otherwise there could be another war in the Balkans.
“Vulin said that a new war in the Balkans would also include Macedonia and Montenegro which have large ethnic-Albanian populations.”
A pertinent point was made by Serbian Prime Minister Alexsander Vucic, who remarked: "If I said that all Serbs should live in one state, I would be hanged from a flagpole in Brussels.” This is quite true. But why is that? Why the double standard?
The Western powers have always used the Albanians as a battering ram to limit Russian influence in the Balkans. This was the real cause of the Kosovo war, and of Western support to the Bosniaks. Political correctness is also a factor: the Albanians are primarily Muslim, while the Serbs and the other Slavic peoples are Orthodox Christians.
The Kosovo war birthed a gangster state in the midst of the Balkans: Kosovo is the heroin capital of Europe, and the Albanian Mafia’s tentacles reach outward from Pristina to penetrate all the countries of Western Europe. It is also the epicenter of support for Muslim terrorism in the region: during the Kosovo war, al-Qaeda sided with the Western powers in that particular power struggle. Kosovo is a fertile recruiting ground for terrorist groups.
With both Albania and Montenegro now NATO members, the ancient blood feuds of the Balkans could easily draw the United States into a renewed conflict. And this would have to mean a fresh confrontation with Russia, the historic protector of the Slavs – which is just what the War Party is gunning for.
What in the name of all that’s holy is tiny Albania doing in NATO, let alone minuscule Montenegro? What possible US interest is served by siding with the Albanians in their bid to create a “Greater Albania” – an ambition that puts them on a direct collision course with every other nation in the region?
The Balkans are synonymous with ethno-religious division and conflict: Google “balkanization.” They don’t call it the tinderbox of Europe for nothing. While the world’s attention is fixated on the Middle East and Eastasia, where ISIS and Kim Jong-un, respectively, are the focus, the forgotten conflicts in this historically volatile minefield are due to explode at any moment. Twenty years after the US-supported “liberation” of Kosovo, the Pandora’s box of the Balkans is wide open – and what’s pouring out of it isn’t pretty.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
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You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.