Why Serbia needs Kosovo? …And why Kosovo needs Serbia

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Text: Žikica Milošević

The problem of all problems in Serbian politics is the problem of Kosovo, and vice versa, the main problem of Kosovan politics is how to resolve the problems with Serbia. The “steps ahead” each government presents are not taking anyone far. Just as much as in the case of other frozen conflicts. And the two extreme solutions are not viable, and not desirable either.

THE SPIRIT OF 1912

Serbia somehow did well for all its history from 1804 to 1912. It was gradually all the same, all over again. You get some territory as a territorial extension, you impose your rules on it, everybody becomes a Serb by assimilation and the names are changed, if necessary (primarily Vlachs in Eastern Serbia and the Shops and Torlaks who got purely Serbian names after they were deemed Bulgarian during the Exarchate). All the Muslim population was expelled to Turkey. Including even notable Serbian Muslim families like Izetbegovićs, from Belgrade. And then 1912 happened. Serbia gained vast territories in the South, with population that was mixed: Orthodox (Macedonians, Aromanians, Meglens, Serbs, Bulgarians), Muslim (Torbesh, Gorani, Albanians, Turks), Catholic (Albanians). What to do now? To make a multireligious and multiethnic state like the Habsburgs did in Vojvodina or Transylvania, or to continue with the old practices, which would entail a huge exchange of non-Orthodox population and Serbianisation of the Orthodox? It was something in between, but the former felt excluded. No good deal. And Albanians… they could not settle down their minds that after the Prizren Declaration and all the effort to create one big Albanian (“autochnonous”, as the map on the drone flag says) state, they now live in 4 different states. None of us can get out of 1912. Not even Macedonians and Bulgarians, but it is completely another story.

THE DANGER OF MONOETHNIC STATE

The trouble is that everyone wants a monoethnic state and it should be as big as possible, which is a contradiction. Sooner or later you will come across a population that cannot be assimilated or they will feel excluded and rebellious enough to make their move. Ukraine felt it the very moment they gave up the compromise that there is a balance between Ukrainian and Russian languages, neutrality between NATO and Russia, nationalism and Communism. Georgia felt it too, like Moldova before. Macedonia resolved it the other way, by inclusion of the minority. Anyway the problems of the state (name, EU or NATO membership or any other membership after all) can be solved only by the consensus. It means that neither Macedonians nor Albanians can be too nationalistic in the process. Which is a good thing. Serbia should do the same, since what makes us in Vojvodina a good society is the mixture and tolerance. Even if we don’t agree.

STATUS QUO UPGRADED

There is a status quo in all the aforementioned cases, but this status quo is unproductive. Cyprus is doing some talks, President Vučić initiated some great talks within Serbia about the Kosovo question. And there is just an idea: what would happen if we amend the status quo, and make the compromise, never quite popular anywhere, but let us make a mental experiment: Kosovo wants to be a republic. OK, Russia has Autonomous Republics. Could be Autonomous Republic of Kosovo. The licence plates, RKS? Well, if it is an autonomous republic, no problem, R can stand now. As for separate plates, Faroe Islands, Aland Islands, Transnistria have them. Playing sports separately? Does anyone think they will play for Serbia? If they play separately, 205 Olympic Committees represent 195 countries, which is obviously a sign that some 10 countries are not independent, yet they are competing independently. Like Hong Kong, Bermuda or Puerto Rico. Everything achieved so far can stand easily. Their compromise should be: accepting Serbian passports, like the ones in Aland Islands (Albanian and Serbian inscriptions: Republic of Serbia/Autonomous Republic of Kosovo), giving up the idea of entering the UN and cancellation of international recognition, and the Serbian Community of Municipalities as an autonomous territory established. All the rest can even stay. Tough job for all, but Serbia can never accept its independence and they are wasting time. Kosovo can never accept getting back to Serbia in full and we are wasting time. One country, two systems.

TRAGEDY OF MONISM

Serbia without Kosovo is a sad country, monoethnic in its central parts, torn apart, with complexes and stopped in the past. Kosovo without Serbia is a country with no perspective and broader vision, dangerously small in landlocked, caccooned in its monoethnic culture of “war victory”. Just like Ukraine is sad without its Russian-speaking part and Russocentric popularion, including Crimea. Just like Georgia is sad without Abkhazia and South Ossetia, just like Cyprus is a strange thing without Turkish north incorporated. The culture od dialogue and mixture, even if we achieve it the Dayton Bosnian way, the Hong Kong way or Aland or Faroe Islands Way, will be much better that constant hatred, stopping each other in progress, blaming the other side for being stuck, and of course, a consequent poverty.

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