Stevan Gayich: The situation in the Balkans is very dangerous for Serbia and Russia

On July 26, Pristina’s Gazeta Ekspres reported with reference to diplomatic sources that the administration of the US President Donald Trump gave a “green light” to the option of Kosovo’s division. The source said that there is a possibility that Trump agreed on this with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Russian-American summit in Helsinki. In early August, a contingent of KFOR peacekeepers held “regular exercises” in the north of Kosovo. As the Serbian edition of Novosti.rs writes, members of KFOR in the morning of August 4 were deployed on access roads to the lake and the Gazovod hydroelectric power station. The publication notes that military maneuvers are just a cover for the transfer of NATO units to the north of the province. President Alexander Vucicheld an emergency meeting of the National Security Council of Serbia , which discussed the threat of aggravation of the situation in relations with the Albanian authorities of Kosovo. Vučić stressed that Belgrade will not allow military operations against the Kosovo Serbs “or new pogroms”. On 4 August, the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, announced that the first airbase of NATO in the Balkans will appear on the site of the old airfield in the city of Kuchov (from 1950 to 1990 – the city of Stalin) . Especially for the news agency “Novorossia” the situation around the next aggravation of the conflict in Kosovo was commented on by Stevan Gayich, Ph.D. in Political Science, research fellow at the Institute for European Studies (Belgrade) .

News agency “Novorossia”: Stevan, tell us, what is the reason for the next aggravation of the situation around Kosovo and how dangerous it can be for Serbia?

Stevan Gayich: It all started with the fact that a few days ago Bishop Teodosiy of Rashko-Prizren and Hegumen of the Monastery of High Decans in Metohija told that some people are discussing an agreement between the Serbian and Albanian sides on the incident that would lead to the division of Kosovo.

In particular, the Albanians would try to take Gazvody – a strategically important hydro power station located in the north of Kosovo, after which the Serbian army would occupy the north of the province. And the Albanians in return would conduct another ethnic cleansing and expel 80,000 Serbs from the so-called “Albanian” southern part of Kosovo – Mitrovica. The publicity of the possibility of such a scenario has greatly angered the authorities of Serbia. President Vucic began to say that there are foreign agents in the Serbian Orthodox Church, that people in robes should not speak like that, etc.

Information about a possible incident spread quickly enough, as a result of which the American contingent left its zone proactively and entered the north of Kosovo. Several Hummers with the forces of KFOR simply located near the Hydrocenter. And thank God that the Americans did this because if there really was a conspiracy between Vucic and Thaci (leader of the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo), and I very much hope that this is a rumor, it would end with another persecution of the Serbs. But, probably, in Serbia it would be presented, like “here we got something, and the Serbian army returned to Kosovo at least 10%.” And it would be sad. Again, the monasteries of our church would be burned and the people suffered again. It’s good that it did not happen.

I believe that both the Albanian and the Serbian sides do not have a consensus on the need to split Kosovo. But this idea is promoted by President Vucic, who constantly talks about compromise, but the Serbian Orthodox Church is clearly against this.

At the May meeting of the Sobor’s Council of Bishops, a special message was received on the situation around Kosovo. The message clearly states that “the question of Kosovo and Metohija is the most important Serbian church, national and state issue”. In these words, one can not fail to see the answer to those Serbian politicians who are calling for “accepting new realities,” to make “difficult but necessary concessions”, referring, of course, to Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

Thus, in fact, an open confrontation between the president and the SPC has now begun. Until recently, the church has been restrained and constantly said that Vucic is fighting for the interests of Serbia, etc. But when it became clear that he was moving either to the division of Kosovo, which is called a “komromiss”, or to surrender the region on certain conditions of the West, the church openly opposed this.

Do Albanians agree to the division of Kosovo?

 However, Albanians have a majority only in the city of Presevo. Buyanovac is half-populated by Serbs, and Medvedja is a completely Serbian city . As you can see, their appetites only grow. At the same time, the so-called “president” and “prime minister” are categorically opposed to the division of territory and concessions to the Serbs, speaking of preserving the full “sovereignty” of Kosovo.

There is still an interesting point. Just the day before all these events, the Prime Minister of Albania, Eddie Rama, said that all border checkpoints with Kosovo will be open and there will be no borders between Albania and Kosovo. That is, he openly says that “yes, we are creating a great Albania”.

This is very dangerous, because if we allow them to get a seat in the UN, then Kosovo can quickly join Albania, and this will officially be the country of NATO.

 Recently, the leadership of Albania also announced the construction of the first NATO airbase in the Balkans.

SG: In fact, in the West there is an internal war very strong. Trump is opposed to NATO, he is constantly shaking the Euro-Atlantic connection. But Brussels, as a separate organism, as the center of the EU and NATO, is trying urgently to take control of as many countries in Eastern Europe, especially in the Balkans. Therefore, last year Montenegro without a referendum, without taking into account the opinion of the population, was dragged into NATO.

The same thing happens in Macedonia. Stoltenberg and other Euro-Atlantic leaders have done everything to the Macedonians and Greeks agreed on the name of Macedonia. While this issue is not resolved, Macedonia can not be drawn into NATO. Nevertheless, on July 11, Macedonia has already received an invitation to join NATO, subject to the settlement of the issue with the name of the country.

Than it threatens? Kosovo as part of Albania will be drawn into NATO, Macedonia will go there itself and only Serbia will remain, in which there is already a campaign for NATO. Even a certain fund for propaganda was divided and they want to create a team of 100 intellectuals and influential people of Serbia who would propagate the idea of ​​joining NATO. The same in the Republika Srpska. To Atlantists, President Dodik hinders there, so they will try to remove him through a coup or elections. And when the power comes “profitable”, it will not prevent Bosnia and Herzegovina from joining NATO. So the situation is very dangerous.

 In Greece, too, there is a strong resistance to the agreement with Macedonia?

SG: The situation in Greece and Serbia is very similar. In Greece there were mass protests that supported the church. In Athens came a million people, in Thessaloniki – about 500 thousand against Greece surrendering its interests and allowed the Macedonians to leave the name of Macedonia in any form. Nevertheless, Tsipras (prime minister of Greece – prim.red.) Decided to go to the end against the church and against his own people for this treaty, a “compromise”. As we see, this word is already becoming a symbol of the surrender of state and national interests, in the case of Serbia and Greece.

It’s the same in Serbia. The masks were removed – the church openly opposed the position of President Vucic on the “compromise”. And there are disagreements in the government. There are certain opinions that do not coincide with the position of the president. He did so for several months the so-called “internal dialogue on Kosovo” and hoped that the majority of intellectuals would say: “Well, we must somehow agree”, but 90% of intellectuals clearly took the side of the constitution – “not a step back, this is our territory” . In addition, even among football fans, the topic of Kosovo’s division caused a sharp protest. At the Champions League match, the fans of “Crvena Zvezda” on the main platform placed a huge banner on which it says “no matter what!”. Fans against the division of Kosovo!

That is, Vucic, like Cipras in Greece, has a society completely opposed to itself – the people, the church, the intellectuals. But, nevertheless, it is moving in the direction of “compromise”.

The church is very determined and does not yield a single step, so Vucic is so angry at the church. Recently they met with the patriarch, and it was a very unpleasant meeting for the president. I note that it was Vouchich who came to the patriarch, and not vice versa.

 It seems that Vucic is faced with a choice – either to support the people, or to negotiate with the West.

SG: The fact is that we have a number of Atlantic leaders in the Balkans. This is Boyko Borisov in Bulgaria (Prime Minister), Alexis Tsipras in Greece, Zoran Zaev in Mekedonia, Milos Djukanovic in Montenegro, Edi Rama in Albania and, unfortunately, Alexander Vucic in Serbia.

But in most of these countries their “Atlanticism” organically combines with anti-Serb feeling, it is easier to conduct pro-Western policies and there are no protests. In addition to Greece, which is Orthodox.

In Serbia, however, the society is against self-destruction, against the surrender of Kosovo, which is the cradle of our spirituality. Today, the three largest Orthodox people live without control over the cradle of their own Orthodox identity. For the Greeks it is Tsargrad, for Russians it’s Kiev, for the Serbs it’s Kosovo.

What is happening now is the repression of Serbia and the Serbian people as such. Yes, they cut us off from the sea and from everything else, but nevertheless the heart of the “Balkan watermelon”, so to speak, is the Serbian people, as a political factor.

Yes, the Serbian people exist both in Montenegro and New Zealand, but there it can not be considered a political factor. In the meantime, we are not in NATO, and the Republika Srpska is not in NATO, we are hindering them and they want to completely occupy us and finally deal with us.

How did Serbia perceive the information of the Western media about the alleged agreement between the Russian and US presidents about the partition of Kosovo?

SG: This is a consequence of Trump’s struggle against the Atlantic structures. From here, probably, there are rumors from the contract. I believe that they did not agree specifically, especially on the division of Kosovo.

On the contrary, I want to note the positive phenomenon that Russia has strengthened its position on Kosovo. If earlier we could hear from Russian officials that Moscow would agree with everything that Belgrade and Pristina would agree on, now rhetoric has changed. Both Victor Kolbanovsky (director of the Balkan Center for International Cooperation – commentary) and State Duma deputy Peter Tolstoy declared unacceptability of any actions on Kosovo outside the framework of UN resolution No. 1244, according to which Kosovo belongs to Serbia entirely, not partially. And that there prior to the settlement of the conflict there will be international forces, as representatives of the UN. This is what is written in the UN resolution, although this is very different from the actual situation in Kosovo today.

And until Serbia renounces the resolution, Kosovo is our territory, even centuries later. Therefore, from the West, the main struggle is for Serbia itself to abandon Kosovo. The main thing is that now in Russia this is understood and understand the complexity of our domestic political situation.

It all started with the fact that the Serbs from Kosovo wrote an open letter to President Putin, asking them to use all diplomatic means to stop the legalization of Albanian separatism in the southern province of Serbia. The text of the letter notes that the Serbs are first asked to protect them from the actions of their own president.

After this representatives of Kosovo and Metohija officially received and listened to State Duma deputy Peter Tolstoy in Moscow, after which the rhetoric from Russia changed. After that, we did not hear that Moscow would agree with any decision of Belgrade, but it again went about the implementation of the UN resolution No. 1244.

In addition, China, which previously held a neutral position, now also actually supported Serbia. China’s Ambassador to Belgrade Li Manchan said that the Chinese had waited 100 years for the return of Hong Kong and waited, there is also a problem in Taiwan, but we just have to suffer, not “solve the issue through the knee”. In other words, he said that we should not do what President Vouchich does, but we just have to wait.

 So it can be stated that the Serbs have a hope for the position of the church, which most consistently upholds the integrity of Serbia on the domestic front and the position of Russia, that Moscow will not allow a departure from the UN resolution?

 Absolutely. First of all, the church, the intellectuals, the opposition, although it is not very strong now either. Well, from the outside primarily to Russia, but it is also very important that China has also changed its position.

In principle, we have a lot of allies and in fact the majority of the world community is on our side. When we say “world community”, it is usually referred to the political West, but in reality most of humanity is on the side of Serbia on this issue. And Russia, and China, and India, Brazil … Huge countries that are not part of the Western bloc, they are on our side. On our side is also a UN resolution, etc. Therefore, it is so important that official Belgrade does not depart from this position. He was already way behind, and it always ended in a sad outcome.

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