Balkans | For the first time, the Kosovo government faced the West.

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Balkans |  For the first time, the Kosovo government faced the West.

Kosovar journalist and writer Biram Pomak, Editor-in-Chief of The Balkan newspaper, “For the first time, the Kosovo government faced the West” We present to your attention the article entitled.

Kosovo has had a problem called the Northern Problem since 1999, when it came under UN administration. In this geography, which covers 17% of Kosovo’s area, 150 thousand Serbs live. Although it is a small area, it is a big area with issues and problems. Although the region, which was jointly administered by the United Nations and Kosovo’s institutions between 1999 and 2008, was administered by the Kosovo government as of 2008, neither the United Nations nor the Kosovo government can effectively control the region. The area, which should have been legally governed by UN Resolution 1244, was in fact ruled by Serbia and illegal groups under Serbian control.

In 2011, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue process was initiated, mediated by the European Union, to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia. In the process, in 2013, an agreement was signed to create a “Federation of Serbian Municipalities” in this region. However, Albin Kurti, the leader of the opposition at the time and the prime minister today, opposed this agreement and sent it to the Constitutional Court. He not only sent them to the Constitutional Court, but also organized street demonstrations. The Constitutional Court has ruled the agreement unconstitutional in 16 places.

Kurti’s argument was that this agreement would pave the way for the creation of a new “Republic of Serbia” in Kosovo as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a matter of fact, no steps have been taken regarding the creation of this structure since then. Over time, opposition leader Albin Kurti won the elections and became prime minister. When Corti came to the government, he made it clear that his dialogue with Serbia would not be a priority and that he would implement different policies. However, international actors were sending messages that this could not be Corti’s initiative and that the dialogue process would continue.

As a matter of fact, when Kurti came to power, he stated that there were no problems in northern Kosovo, and that the only problem was the criminal organizations supported by Serbia. In this regard, Corti announced that his government has the principle of fighting crime in the north and reciprocity with Serbia, and that the government has begun operations against illegal criminal organizations in the north. In the same direction, it was announced that the Serbian license plates used by Serbs are illegal and the passage of these vehicles will be prohibited. On the other hand, Serbia began to increase tension in the north and erected barriers against all such moves, claiming that these operations were portrayed as targeting criminal organizations and were actually against the Serbian people. These events, which took place in the shadow of the Ukraine war, alarmed the European Union. Serbs, all Serbian officers, police, etc., in order to boycott all this. Mayors resign from Kosovo’s institutions.

Upon developments, the government several times called on the Serbs to return. After the Serbs did not give any answer, the Socialist Consultative Council announced the dates of the elections in the municipalities of the North. The elections, which were supposed to take place in November 2022, have been postponed to April 2023 at the request of the West. As a result of the negotiations, the Kosovo government was able to hold elections in the north in April 2023. However, the Serbs boycotted these elections and did not participate in them. Only Albanian parties entered the elections and a small number of Albanians living in the area participated in the elections. Albanian presidents were elected for the first time in 4 municipalities with few votes. On the other hand, the Serbs claimed that they would never accept these chiefs and that this election was illegitimate.

When the time came for the mayors to take office, the international community asked the Kosovo government to carry out their duties outside the municipal buildings to avoid further escalation. But the government stated that this is unacceptable and that the international community accepted these elections and their results and said that whatever law was required would be implemented. As mayors began entering town halls, Serbs began barricading the entrances to town halls and protesting. Tensions rose to a high level here and the Kosovo Police Special Forces and NATO/KFOR initiated a military intervention. The events made global media headlines.

The European Union and the United States demanded that Prime Minister Kurti back down and not escalate events. Corti, on the other hand, did not take a step back, pointing out that the practice here revolves around the enforcement of the law. After that, the United States and the European Union began to make statements that the Prime Minister of Kosovo would suffer the consequences on the grounds that he did not cooperate with the West and did not facilitate things. Immediately after these statements, the Kosovar security forces withdrew from NATO’s “Defender Europe 21” exercise. The United States and the European Union: de-escalation from the government; He demanded holding elections in the north and the return of dialogue.

Prime Minister Kurti, on the other hand, is prosecuting NATO soldiers, Kosovo police and those who use violence in order to meet these demands; He replied that criminal groups should be expelled to Serbia and only then can elections be held.

In all their statements, Western officials began to regard Prime Minister Kurti as uncooperative. Accordingly, the European Union decided to take temporary sanctions measures against Kosovo. According to these decisions, some EU funds will be cut off, the Kosovo government will not be invited to high-level meetings and there will be no bilateral visits. After the EU’s statements, the opposition accuses the government of isolating the country and of hostile action towards its allies. On the other hand, Corti stated that they are critical of the European Union, but this is not a hostile position.

US officials have stated that they do not want to deal with another problem in the Balkans while the Ukraine war continues. They say that this situation is in the interests of Russia. The West expects that elections will be held again and that the Kosovo government will fulfill its obligations under the “Union of Serbian Municipalities” agreement. On the other hand, the Corti government is totally against this structure. Corti’s behavior increases the possibility of the government’s downfall. The media revealed some of the government’s scandals during this period, and the opposition’s boycott of Parliament to obstruct it completely enhances the possibility of holding new elections.

The thing to remember here is that the same Corte government was overthrown in the middle of the pandemic simply because it opposed Washington’s deal. After the agreement was signed, the elections were re-elected and Corti single-handedly came to power with 51%. Even if the government is overthrown and elections are held, Corti will again come out first. However, this time he will not be able to come to power on his own and will have to form a coalition government. Those who plan to hold elections again want to break Kurti’s power and take control of the government with their coalition partners.

It should also be noted the international dimension of the issue. Kurti also opposes the “Open Balkans” project. Therefore, for Kosovo to participate in this formation, it must also sign an agreement with Serbia. One of the most important reasons for the international community’s involvement in this issue is the implementation of the “Open Balkans” project.

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