Balkans Woes Continue

The troubled Balkans pot continues to simmer. In Macedonia, people mourn the death of President Trajkovski, whose plane crashed in the highlands of Herzegovina last Thursday. Meanwhile, the Empire once again protects Kosovo Albanian separatists from facing arrest, while condemning the new Serbian government for refusing further extraditions to the kangaroo court in The Hague. No one knows what exactly will come out of this, but the only sure wager is – nothing well.

President Down

En route to a major donors’ conference in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski’s dilapidated official airplane crashed on final landing approach. What exactly happened is shrouded in a fog of controversy. Reports alternately blame the decrepit aircraft, pilot error, bad weather and even the SFOR ground control. It seems that rescue teams lost 24 hours looking in the wrong place, and found the wreck – with no survivors – only after disregarding SFOR’s guidance. In speculation-prone Bosnia, there are already rumors that SFOR deliberately misdirected the searchers to remove possibly incriminating evidence. France – whose crew was on duty at the ground control – emphatically denied any wrongdoing, naturally fueling the rumors even more.

Causes and details of the crash find very little room in the international media, which is mostly focused on eulogizing Trajkovski as an embodiment of a good Balkans vassal (whether he was one or not). There seems to be a preoccupation with keeping Macedonia on the “European path” of “tolerance” and “multi-ethnicity,” which in practical terms amounts to continued appeasement of ethnic Albanian demands.

Just the weekend before Trajkovski’s crash, Albanians marched in Macedonia’s capital demanding a redistricting plan that would give them government jobs and language privileges. Whoever is elected in early April – a deadline in the Macedonian constitution for electing a new president – will have to contend with the continuing crisis institutionalized by the Ohrid Capitulations. Given the degree of Imperial support to Albanians in and around occupied Kosovo, that will be harder than ever.

Catch and Release

Agim Ceku, a top KLA and Kosovo Albanian official, was arrested in Hungary Monday on an Interpol warrant. The warrant was issued in Serbia, where Ceku is charged with terrorism and murder as the leader of the KLA. After a couple of hours, the UN/NATO viceroy of Kosovo intervened and secured his release. Kosovo’s occupation authorities have also stated that Serbian warrants for “citizens of Kosovo” were invalid. That is also the official position of all Kosovo Albanian politicians.

Something similar happened last year, when both Ceku and his boss, Hashim Taqi, were briefly detained in Slovenia and Hungary. Then, however, Dossie authorities in Belgrade acted embarrassed and – eager to appease the Empire – tacitly supported their release. Now the tune has changed, and the very same officials protested the viceroy’s intervention.

Some may wonder how UNMIK can deny Serbian jurisdiction and invent categories such as “citizens of Kosovo,” when that directly contradicts its mandate in Resolution 1244. The sad truth is, 1244 was ever but a fig leaf for NATO’s illegal occupation of Kosovo, and neither NATO nor UNMIK had any intention of ever abiding by it. Events have made that abundantly clear.

In the Imperial worldview, law is something to be used in the pursuit of power. This is why no one blinks when the EU, NATO and Washington demand extraditions to the ICTY and “international justice” from their conquered subjects in the Balkans, but casually trample international law when it comes to protecting KLA terrorists from Interpol warrants, or occupying Kosovo on their behalf to begin with.

Here is another potential explanation for the second part of L’Affaire Ceku: by arranging Ceku’s arrest and release, UNMIK (and its sponsors) slapped Belgrade, nudged Kosovo further towards separation, and attempted to ingratiate themselves further with the Albanians. It may sound like a conspiracy theory, but it does fit both the facts and the profile.

Denials and Appeasement

It gets worse. The International Crisis Group, ever at the vanguard of Imperial intervention, produced at the end of February a report seeking to defuse criticism of Albanian expansionism. Titled “Pan-Albanianism: How Big a Threat to Balkan Stability?” the report categorically dismisses the existence of a “Greater Albania project.” However, it also argues that the only threat to the Balkans is in not appeasing Albanian demands fully and quickly enough. These demands – legitimate, says ICG – just happen to be backed by a threat of more “human rights uprisings” and de facto amount to a Greater Albania!

Albanian partisans in the West, from the ICG to major media, EU and Imperial governments, routinely claim that Greater Albania is a chimera invoked by those with anti-Albanian sentiments. Substitute “Serbia” for “Albania,” and that statement would actually be true. As it is, Albanians themselves are firmly behind the idea, but camouflage it with politically correct rhetoric when dealing with Westerners.

On November 13, 2003, BBC’s monitoring service picked up an article from Kosovo Albanian (is there another kind?) paper Koha Jone, titled “Albanian-Kosovo Union, a strategic objective of all Albanians.” It carried reactions of various Albanian leaders to a proposal by a Kosovo Albanian party for unification with Albania, and the list of those who endorsed the project is a veritable who-is-who of ethnic Albanian politics.

It does seem that people believe the big lies, such as a complete inversion of reality, more readily than the little ones.

Self-Respect as Crime

Such is the case in Belgrade, where a new government of Vojislav Kostunica is about to be confirmed in the parliament. With two fewer portfolios than its DOS predecessor – and only one, instead of five deputy PMs – the new cabinet is a lot leaner and likely to be more functional. Kostunica has already pledged to slash taxes and public spending and give entrepreneurs and investors some breathing room. He is a strong advocate of joining the EU, and insists on the rule of law. He has secured support for his cabinet by making arrangements more likely to be found in the politically sophisticated European capitals than the comparatively primitive Balkans.

If the Empire were truly interested in democracy, rule of law and genuine free-market reforms (however contradictory those might be), it would support Kostunica and his exercises in the art of the possible. Yet all he has received so far in the West is condemnation, both for his refusal to extradite senior government officials to The Hague Inquisition, and his choice of alliance with Slobodan Milosevic’s Socialists as opposed to the corrupt, pro-Empire Democrats.

It’s not that Kostunica and his allies want to oppose the Empire – quite the contrary; they want to continue “cooperating” – but that they refuse to be sycophants, blindly obeying any whim from Washington or Brussels. To Imperial officials, used to just such behavior from the defunct DOS, even such feeble assertiveness is loathsome. Condemnations in the media are just one way of letting their displeasure show. Meanwhile, Serbian “humanitarians” in their pay have begun to advocate foreign “pressure” on Serbia, echoing mad claims of the Hague Inquisition about “war criminals” nesting in Belgrade. How Kostunica and his allies respond to these none-too-subtle pressures will determine the tone of their administration.

Conflict and Control

Washington and Brussels declare they want peace, democracy, free-market reforms, rule of law and international justice in the Balkans, yet their actions demonstrate just the opposite. Stacks of EU-mandated regulations and US-written laws regulate any economic freedom out of existence. Democracy is defined as doing whatever pleases the West, which all too frequently means opposing the will of the domestic majority. Laws differ in scope and application, so the Empire and its agents are entirely immune, designated Balkans allies enjoy protection, while designated miscreants are always a priori guilty. And peace remains more elusive than ever, with the occupiers fomenting and promoting conflicts from Bosnia to Macedonia, and imposing “solutions” that only guarantee their further involvement and control. In the seemingly irrational world of the Balkans, the only logic is that of power, the only power that of violence.

Is it any wonder the crisis continues?

Author: Nebojsa Malic

Nebojsa Malic left his home in Bosnia after the Dayton Accords and currently resides in the United States. During the Bosnian War he had exposure to diplomatic and media affairs in Sarajevo. As a historian who specializes in international relations and the Balkans, Malic has written numerous essays on the Kosovo War, Bosnia, and Serbian politics. His exclusive column for debuted in November 2000.