By Dragutin Nenezic
Without much introduction – on what it would say in another time and in another place – I begin this text with a conclusion.
Despite all the goings-on, the European agreement is alive and well, it is widely implemented even though it has not been signed, and in fact, everything that is happening in and around the north these days is another phase in its implementation. Although very different, the regimes in Belgrade and Pristina are doing the same thing – bringing the north down to the level of the south, all over the backs of the people who will continue to live in the north at least for some time. Instead of a culmination, as the great poet said (This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper), the north is susceptible to implosion, and all great expectations have, I’m afraid, been missed.
The situation until the last escalation
Until the escalation (I use this term for everything that happened from May 26th onwards), the European agreement with the annex was applied as intended, at least in the part that foresees obligations for Belgrade and Pristina:
• In April, a committee was formed to monitor the implementation of the agreement (item 6 of the annex);
• in April, Pristina started the process of accession to the Council of Europe, referring to the agreement (Article 4 of the agreement);
• In May, after the presentation of the draft of the ASM statute, the Pristina government disbanded the management team (item 5 of the annex);
As I wrote earlier, aside from the debate surrounding (non)-signing (rendered meaningless for anyone who knows the law at all, and now for anyone who has a grain of honor) – the European agreement will be applied, that is, it was applied, even without a signature. It was to be expected that after the above, the implementation of the part concerning „self-governance“ (Article 7 of the agreement) would follow, but for that the problem of the withdrawal from the institutions need to be solved, which I also wrote about.
Introduction to escalation
The escalation itself was preceded by a series of actions by which Pristina continued the formalization of the Self-Determination program:
• At the strategic level, a security strategy was adopted that classified the north as a security problem – I will discuss other strategic documents such as the development or energy strategy, and their consequences for Serbs in Kosovo, in one of my future texts;
• At the legislative level, in March, shortly after the events in Leposavic and Zubin Potok related to „expropriation“ for the purpose of constructing bases, a draft amendment to the law on expropriation appeared, which explicitly envisages such a goal as permissible, and the possibility of expropriation of church property is also mentioned.
• Finally, at the level of local self-government, local elections were held in the north in April, which objectively cannot be described as legal even according to Pristina regulations (if you consider the existing judgments of the Pristina Constitutional Court on representativeness), and it is clear to everyone that they cannot possibly be legitimate.
This created the preconditions for an escalation at all levels, despite the announcements of Pristina officials (in other words, members of the Self-Determination) that this would not happen.
The following coordinates were set – the north will be solved as a security issue, the police forces that have already occupied it and established themselves there are on their way to being „legalized“, and with the formation of new municipal authorities, they will dispense with „parallel structures“.
On the path to the complete introduction of Kurti’s „rule of law“ in the north, only non-institutional Serbs in various organizational forms remained standing, therefore, escalation was the only logical next step.
On possible outcomes
The possible outcomes of the situation (that is, de-escalation, which is the new favorite word of all politicians dealing with Kosovo and Metohija) are somewhere between the actions of the collective/political West (in terms of the implementation of the agreement, with the recognition of Pristina by Belgrade as the final outcome – and the same remark applies to this about rights and honor as well as for the (non)signing of the agreement) and the action of Kurti’s government (in the sense of the north being completely dragged into the Pristina system, by force since reason failed), where the rounding off of Pristina’s statehood is the common denominator.
Belgrade agreed to this at least a decade ago, and the limits of its action (both geographic and legal and political) are now laid bare and painfully clear to everyone (especially the Serbs in the north).
The announcements of the independent formation of the ASM by the Serbs, seemingly paradoxically, coincide with this – with this, Kurti will avoid what he has been against all the time (and confirm his vision of the „Croatian model“ for the Serbs, which I also wrote about earlier), and Belgrade will also get what (and practically the only thing) it strove for. At the same time, the implementation of the European agreement, which the collective/political West insists on, will continue.
The price of this, if amnesty is not adopted, will be paid by all imprisoned Serbs, as well as those who have left the north or will leave it, as well as the institutions in the Belgrade system which, if not abolished, will die out by themselves (a good example of this is the University in Pristina with a temporary headquarters in Kosovska Mitrovica, where we will see in the coming days how many students decided to enroll despite the situation).
Let us not forget the Serbs in the south of Kosovo – since they have already gone through in the past 25 years everything that the Serbs from the north of Kosovo are going through today (and even more, since no one has yet disappeared without a trace in the north), from arbitrary arrests and imprisonment to emigration due to tremendous pressure from all sides, and lately also the violent takeover of municipalities (Strpce), they can serve as an example of future life for Serbs from the north once the European agreement is implemented.
The need for an authentic response by the Serbian side is more present than ever, with the exception being this period of 1999, but new times also require new forms – with the fact that successful forms also require the support of Belgrade. Belgrade, however, insists on the ASM, which can hardly be anything other than a form without success, in a system that is now majorly rigged against the Serbs. Therefore, for success in these coordinates, it is necessary to either change the ASM or change the Pristina system, everything else is doomed to failure and further deterioration, in the south and in the north alike.
At the cost of sounding pathetic, it seems that nothing has changed since the poet (not the same one whose words I used to paraphrase the title, nor the one I quote at the beginning) wrote:
Perish, brothers, heroes, men!
The world will learn of your downfall…
The heavens will weep long and bitterly,
because there will be no Serbs…
We are not brothers, we are not Serbs!
Or are you not of Nemanja’s stock?
Of course, we are Serbs, we are men –
Of course, we are brothers – oh my god!…
Would you thus gaze stone-faced from the blue Avala
during the time of fire?
Would they do so, oh dear brothers,
would they scorn you like that?…
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