In an interview with EADaily, Boško Obradović, the head of the parliamentary faction of Serbian Movement Dveri, speaks about Serbia’s fight for Kosovo, Moscow’s special role among foreign policy partners of Belgrade, about the reasons why Kosovo is Serbia and Crimea is Russia.
Mr. Obradović, together with your colleague from Dveri Movement Ivan Kostić and Director of the Center of Geostrategic Studies Dragana Trifkovic you attended the Fourth Economic Forum in Yalta recently. Serbia has not recognized Crimea as part of the Russian Federation due to Kosovo and Metohija. How is Crimea’s unification with Russia attributed to one-sided independence declaration by Kosovo?
As regards the Dveri Movement, since the moment of Crimea’s unification with the Russian Federation we have had no doubts that it was about Crimean people’s will and their vote for reunion. We think the issue is settled and Crimea is part of Russia.
We do not think that it is anyhow connected with absolutely different act of illegal secession committed by terrorist authorities in Pristina. They took advantage of consequences of Serbia bombing by NATO and deployment of foreign occupational forces in the territory of the Republic of Serbia, and declared independence of Kosovo and tried to create a pseudo-state, a NATO-state in the heart of Europe. We believe that Kosovo and Metohija are integral part of the Republic of Serbia and we reject anti-constitutional Brussels agreements that imply Serbia’s refusal from its own territory. Quite the contrary, we do believe that it is necessary to return to UN SC Resolution 1244 saying that Kosovo and Metohija are part of Serbia.
In this sense, the only similarity of the former Yugoslav and former Soviet lands is that with their actions the communist parties of the former USSR and former Yugoslavia divided the traditional ethnic space of the Russian and Serbian peoples into some fictional communist republic, which later resulted in drawing of borders of some new states. This is a single process for us, a process that was directly aimed against interests of Russians and Serbs and it is absolutely natural that parts of the former Soviet territories with Russian population want to join their center, from which they were once separated forcefully by the communist government.
President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic is expected to make his suggestions concerning long-term settlement of the Kosovo issue in the nearest future. What do you think about contents of his suggestions?
The slogan that can briefly express political stance of the Dveri Movement on this issue sounds like: “Crimea is Russia, Kosovo is Serbia.” For us the status of Kosovo and Metohija within the Serbian state cannot be a subject for discussion. Under Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, Kosovo and Metohija are integral part of it, under UN SC Resolution 1244 too, it is part of Serbia. Talks can be held around how to settle the relations of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo and Metohija. However, they cannot consider separation of the southern Serbian territory from Serbia, exchange of territories, division of Kosovo and Metohija, as well as they cannot work to form Greater Albania. It is absolutely inadmissible to us. In this sense, whatever president of Serbia or the Serbian government task force for internal dialogue with Kosovo and Metohija suggest, it should not run contrary to the Constitution of Serbia and UN SC Resolution 1244.
Considering the pressure Western countries exert on Serbia trying to make it refuse from Kosovo and Metohija to pave their way to EU, a question arises as to whether the Serbian government will agree on that or they will resist that pressure. The problem is that in 2012, they took their posts thanks to Western patrons. Either Serbian authorities and President Aleksandar Vucic gave certain promises to their patrons concerning Kosovo and Metohija or they are free from any promises are ready to protect our territorial integrity within the Constitution of Serbia. This is a test for the government and one of the most pressing issues for Serbia.
If the government promised anything to the West, they have to fulfill their promise by signing the “legally binding agreement between Belgrade and Pristina.” For Serbia it is nothing but practical recognition of pseudo-state Kosovo with its following possible accession to UN. This is necessary for the so-called Kosovo to confirm its independence. The West demands this from Belgrade. It is not clear yet if our leadership will agree on such demands to retain power or it will protect the constitution and territorial integrity of Serbia.
One of the most pressing issues connected with the situation in Kosovo and Metohija is formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities. Is it necessary to establish such to protect the interests of Kosovan Serbs? How will it be formed: within the Serbian laws or as required by the separatist government in Pristina?
Everything will become clear, if you look into the text of the Brussels Agreement that, as we think, is anti-constitutional and paves the way to establishment of a second Albanian state in the Balkans. Establishment of that so-called Kosovo was launched during NATO’s aggression against former Yugoslavia and it is one thing. Quite different thing is that the given process is continued and completed with the support of the Serbian state. Serbia should not have signed the Brussels Agreements, under which it refuses from functioning of its state institutions in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija. This process has been completed in the part related to the police, justice, prosecutor’s office, phone code, border, customs and many other sectors. The Brussels Agreements provides for establishment of a Community of Serb Municipalities. It is noteworthy that these documents do not mention the State of Serbia and UN SC Resolution 1244. In fact, it is the state that contributes to full independence of Kosovo.
A question arises as to whether the Community of Serb Municipalities is formed inside the constitutional and legal organization of Serbia, according to Serbian laws on local self-government or it is formed in compliance with the constitution and laws of “independent state” Kosovo. We believe that the Community of Serb Municipalities has no real functions, but creates problems connected with recognition of Kosovo independence. If we agree on formation of the community within the laws of the so-called Kosovo, we will agree on its existence in the format of an independent state.
On the other hand, the Community of Serb Municipalities cannot be established on the norms of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and on the law on local self-government like Hungarian, Albanian or any other municipalities cannot be formed in Serbia. It is evident that this is a project operating within independent Kosovo and, therefore, it is absolutely inadmissible to us.
It is quite different question how to protect the rights of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, how to protect their property like the property of the Serbian state and Serbian Orthodox Church, how to protect religious and cultural facilities in Kosovo and Metohija, how to protect Serbian state and economic interests in the region. We believe that the Community of Serb Municipalities is not a solution, but a mask that is needed to agree on independence of Kosovo.
What is Russia’s role in the fight for Kosovo remaining a part of Serbia? Can Russia render any specific assistance in that process?
First of all, I think Russia is our major foreign policy partner. Alliance with Russia is the most important thing for Serbia both historically and in the future. We have no big friends in the international arena, which has been repeatedly proved during the last few years, when Russia came out against Kosovo accessing UNESCO and against UN Resolution on Srebrenica that would slam the Serbian people for alleged genocide. Russia’s role is especially important to protect sovereignty and territorial integrity of Serbia in Kosovo and Metohija. As a state, we put ourselves in a very uncomfortable state by transferring Kosovo and Metohija issue from UNSC to EU. The Dveri Movement urges Serbian government to refuse from the current Brussels format of talks, as it causes harm. EU is not a neutral side, it is one of the key sponsors of Kosovo “independence” along with U.S. and NATO. We believe that Kosovo and Metohija issue must be returned to its right place – the UN SC. At that level, no decisions can be adopted to harm Serbia’s state and national interests, as China and Russia can use their right to veto, if needed. This is the key option for Russia to help us. However, before this happens, we need to withdraw from the Brussels talks and submit the Kosovo and Metohija issue back to UN, the only competent agency in Kosovo and Metohija issue. UN SC Resolution 1244 is still in force and UN Mission in Kosovo and Metohija submits quarterly reports on its activity to the Security Council. It is extremely important for us.
After recent talks of President Putin and President Vucic, the Kremlin website published information citing Putin as saying that any solution of Kosovo issue beyond Resolution 1244 is absolutely inadmissible. It is one of the most important statement recently heard on the given issue. It says what we care for most – Kosovo resolution based on Resolution 1244.
Russia could help Serbia also concerning a provision of that resolution that has not been applied for 20 years already. It implies return of up to 1000 employees of the Serbian government to the territory of Kosovo and Metohija to ensure borders, protect religious heritage and communications with international missions. It would be a powerful signal for all the citizens of Serbia, especially those living in Kosovo and Metohija about return of the Serbian state into the region. I think, in this issue Serbia needs Russia’s support.
What do you think of the Russian-Serbian relations at large?
The Dveri Movement believes that Russia should be a foreign policy partner No.1 for Serbia. We assess the current level of relations as good, but we do believe that more efforts can be made to enhance these relations. Our political, economic and military cooperation capacities are huge and used insufficiently. If we came to power in Serbia, we would do our best to that end. Dveri would attach much more importance to political, military and economic cooperation with Russia, including through formation of separate task forces within the government of Serbia that would engage in this issue.
Many say that it is impossible to keep peace in the region amid uncompromising fight for Kosovo. What is your assessment of the risk of a conflict in the Balkans?
“Peace in the region” is a time-worn phrase in politics and mass media, the real goal of which is to question Serbia’s national and state interests. Of course, we are for peace; no normal man would be for war. Should Serbia refuse from its interests for peace? They cannot establish states in the Balkans at the expense of Serbia. A great number of Serbs remained outside Serbia, many lack civil rights, rights minorities and freedom of religion. But this is not enough – they want to go farther and allow Kosovo to become an independent state for Republika Srpska “to drown” in the unitary Bosnia and Herzegovina.
How long will these double standards be effective? On the one hand, you separate Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia and say that Albanian people should get a second state in the Balkans, though it was just a national minority inside Yugoslavia and it had no argument in favor of separation. On the other hand, you deny the right of Republika Srpska as a confederative unit to separate from BiH and make Bosnian Serbs refuse from their statehood and assimilate into artificial and forced BiH. If Kosovo has a right to independence, why Republika Srpska couldn’t get independence? If you drive BiH into unitary state with no right to self-determination and separation, you should grant such right also to Serbia. It has become an integral state and none of its parts has the right to self-determination. We are against such double standards in the West and in the region.
We need to express Serbia’s state interests exactly. Of course, we do not want war, but we do not want further Western policy working against Serbia’s interests for over 20 years already. West has not made a single step towards respecting Serbia’s interests. On the other hand, the Serbian people have been on the side of Western allies for several times during their history – in the WWI and WWII. We cannot understand why they pay for all the good we did for them in such a way.