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Kurti’s isolated island

If we forget for a moment the words of Ramush Haradinaj, while he was prime minister, that Kosovo does not have its own foreign policy, but follows the US policy, and we assume that Kosovo has it, in the time of Albin Kurti it abruptly breaks all international support that Kosovo has gained over the years. Arrogant in proving to himself and his voters that Kosovo is completely independent and sovereign, Kurti without error destroys all those international bridges which support that independence and sovereignty and are their only, though insufficient, confirmation. He is destroying bridges towards Western European countries, towards the United States, and lately towards its neighbours, and even Albania.


Political analyst from Pristina Agon Maliqi describes today’s Kurti’s Kosovo very precisely, as a “teenager” insecure about his identity and the limits of his freedom, who tries to prove that he is old enough (independent) and thus goes to the other extreme with “hysterical and arrogant behaviour, overestimating his real power”. “The effect in the eyes of others is quite comical”, says Maliqi.


Kurti’s arrogance on the international scene has been tested and confirmed enough times that the Pristina analyst can rightly conclude that it causes a “comic effect” among international interlocutors. In both previous meetings with the Serbian president and European mediators in Brussels, Kurti was a factor due to which no progress was made, as he wanted to take the ten-year process back to the beginning, and much further into history, even into the 19th century wanting to “charge” Serbia for the centuries-old sacrifice of Kosovo Albanians. There was also comedy at an important summit of regional leaders on Brdo near Kranj in May, where Vjosa Osmani’s demands (payment of war reparations, Serbia’s condemnation of genocide) were simply silenced as completely unrealistic, even by sincere friends of Kosovo, such as Croatia and its president Zoran Milanović.


Kosovo, under Kurti, managed to do an almost impossible thing, to break good relations with its neighbours, who have supported its independence since day one – Montenegro, North Macedonia and even Albania. In Pristina, they cannot forgive Skopje, and especially Tirana, which together with Serbia are working closely on the establishment of an economic zone without barriers (Open Balkan), consider this a betrayal of Kosovo and demand that they abandon the initiative. Montenegro was not spared from Kurti’s anger either, so it also received a lesson on how to behave towards a country that above all adheres to its sovereignty. The Prime Minister in Pristina announces that he will break the agreement on the demarcation of the border between Kosovo and Montenegro, which was reached in 2018 after much trouble, because he believes that it was a “fatal mistake” by which Kosovo “lost territory”.


After Europeans, friends in the region and the first neighbours, we come to Kurti’s biggest “bite”, and that is the United States, without equal the biggest patron of Kosovo’s independence. Deaf to Washington’s very open warnings that “history does not begin with him” (US Ambassador to Pristina Philip Kosnett), Albin Kurti has been in direct confrontation with the US since the first day of being the prime minister, convinced that he has their unreserved support, whatever he does. At first, he made fun of the dialogue with Serbia, putting it at the bottom of his government’s priorities, so with great pressure, he raised the process to the very top. He completely ignores American advice to join the “Open Balkan” initiative as a good step towards stabilizing the region and joining the EU faster. He is losing sight of the fact that the United States is sending the same warnings to Bosnia and Herzegovina, by which Washington is literally “drawing” its huge support for Belgrade, Tirana and Skopje for their initiative and asking everyone else in the Balkans to join it.


The climax comes with the completely unnecessary putting of last year’s Washington agreement before the Assembly of Kosovo, and especially with the decision of the majority to reject that agreement. The Americans, but not only them, simply cannot understand that a government refuses to implement the state obligations that the previous one undertook. And even in their dreams, they cannot accept the arrogance of someone rejecting the agreement with the United States under the same explanation – that it was concluded by the previous presidential administration in Washington.


The attempt by Pristina to get out of it all was just bizarre and received more than a cold answer. The posthumous award of the medal to Beau Biden, the son of the American president, was supposed to be another proof that Pristina is grateful to America for the support it provides, but the answer was more than cold and the question is whether Kurti and his team understood it right. Receiving this medal and with courteous expressions of gratitude, the American ambassador Kosnett told the authorities that they would “honour the late son of President Biden in the best way if all the citizens of Kosovo work for the future”. In other words, such gestures as decorations, medals, erecting monuments to American officials, naming streets after them, are not enough, it requires decisions and moves that are future-oriented, and Kurti refuses to do that.


In two months, Kurti’s policy will be on a big test and the support he will receive in the local elections on October 17 will be monitored. It is realistic that if these elections show Kurti’s decline (below the 50 percent he had in the parliamentary elections), Kosovo will enter a period of political crisis and preparations for early elections. Perhaps Albin Kurti really believes that his policy of discontinuity with all previous governments, including overthrowing all their decisions, drawing the line and starting from the beginning, is really the only way a sovereign country should behave. Perhaps he really believes that in proving that sovereignty, he should break relations with absolutely all international partners, starting with the first neighbours then the EU and the United States, and force them to change their positions towards Kosovo’s sovereignty, and not him. But the independence that Kurti is looking for and for which he has received votes so far, no longer exists anywhere in the modern world, neither the Netherlands, nor even the USA, have such independence, nor do they seek it. In a highly interdependent world, even the most developed countries seek a path for their interests in compromising with others rather than in opposing their independence to someone else’s. These are concepts from ancient times, fortunately outdated. But not in Kosovo. Kurti may once again gain the support of the majority of Kosovo Albanians for his policy of “hard” independence, which he does not need to prove to anyone, but he will not be able to do anything with that support. He will have nowhere to practice it, because his Kosovo will emerge as a strange community that has decided to isolate itself from the whole world.

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