The stability of the western Balkans, which since the Yugoslav wars has seen internecine ethnic separatist conflicts erupt in what used to be a harmonious multi-national and multi-confessional state, shows no signs of improving, particularly between the nominally neutral Serbia, the self-proclaimed state of Kosovo, and Albania. In addition, the election of Ramush Haradinaj, a former KLA guerrilla commander who was accused of being a war criminal by Serbia, as the Prime Minister of Kosovo, has accelerated tensions between Belgrade, Pristina and the central government of Albania. Although Haradinaj was later acquitted by a historically politicized ICTY tribunal, which is seen by some as anti-Serbian, his election does not bode well for the poorly defined aims of the European Union, to see a normalization of relations between the Serbian government and the dysfunctional quasi-legal state of Kosovo in accordance with the Brussels Agreement.
Since the little protectorate came under the patronage of NATO (U.S.) in 1999, the province has suffered from astounding levels of endemic corruption, which has been unequalled in European countries, unless you count the post-coup in Ukraine. This is due to it essentially functioning as a mafia state composed of private fiefdoms that are dependent on Western loans and illicit criminal activities. The state’s presidency and prime ministership posts are filled with former KLA insurgent warlords, such as Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj, and large swathes of the bureaucracy and society are permeated by the Albanian mafia. Incidentally, before the warm embrace of the KLA by America as a ‘resistance movement’ whose intimate relationship with the Albanian mafia and foreign jihadist networks were well documented, the Clinton White House and State Department classified it as a terrorist organization. Today, the primary sectors and exports needed to keep its fledgling economy afloat are the drug trade, human trafficking, weapons smuggling, organ harvesting, and homegrown jihadism.
Meanwhile, the new prime minister-designate has ended a political deadlock that has persisted since the elections on June 11. The Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija, which has been largely expelled from its native homeland through systematic ethnic cleansing and pogroms by Albanian extremists derived from the pool of the KLA militias, faces a precarious fate due to it being surrounded by hostile forces, a complacent KFOR and a Serbian government unwilling to defend the self-determination of its persecuted brethren. Bereft of any viable options to enhance the enfranchisement of its people, ten Serbian deputies have pledged to vote for Haradinaj’s government in Parliament in return for three ministerial posts.
Nevertheless, Haradinaj’s introductory remarks, where he set his agenda and policy platform, highlighted the following: maintaining dialogue with Serbia and putting an end to endemic corruption, which appears to have struck a more conciliatory tone and should not be discarded out of hand by a Serbian government that has willingly or not assumed the mantle of guarantor of stability in the Balkans. Representatives of the European Commission have also urged the Pristina authorities to continue down the path of productive dialogue with Belgrade. However, the Serbian people are all too aware of the volatility of Kosovo’s and Albanian politicians who in the past have been inclined towards threatening bombastic rhetoric and an emboldened separatist Albanian diaspora that could endanger the territorial integrity of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Greece. With that said, although the Serbian leadership headed by President Vucic has issued statements respecting the wishes of its compatriots in Kosovo to collaborate with Haradinaj’s new government, it is still the unyielding contention of the Serbian state that Haradinaj is a clear-cut war criminal and fugitive from justice.