February 17 marked the fifth anniversary of the proclamation of the so-called "independence" of Kosovo. The event looked like a special operation to break the cradle of Serbia's statehood away from the country. Unfortunately, the Serbian authorities, under the pressure of the West, move closer to the recognition of the region. Noteworthy, the separatist "Pandora's box" opened in other parts of Europe.
Where does Kosovo belong? Even if we ignore the ideas of the Orthodox brotherhood, we can not disregard the fact that the region was a cradle of the Serbian statehood in the XIII-XV centuries. It can be seen in numerous Serbian monasteries (Albanians burned or desecrated many of them). Even under the Ottoman Empire, the residence of the Serbian Patriarch was located in the Kosovo town of Pec. It turns out that even the Turkish conquerors used to recognize the fact that the land of Kosovo belongs to the Serbs.
A certain number of Albanians have been living in Kosovo for centuries, but in contrast to the Serbs, they have not created their state during the Middle Ages. But, having accepted Islam and with the full approval of the Turks, they gradually ousted a large part of the Serbian population. The region remained a predominantly Albanian territory before the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, when Serbia regained the cradle of its statehood.
During the Second World War, with the approval of German and Italian occupants, Kosovo turned into an Albanian-populated region again. The creation of socialist Yugoslavia in 1945 did not change much ethnically. Marshal Josip Broz Tito made Kosovo an autonomous province of Serbia, but Albanians comprised more than 80 percent of its population. The Yugoslav leader did not stop the Albanians from moving there.
The ousting of the Serb population from the province continued before the late 1980s. Slobodan Milosevic, who came to power in Belgrade, decided to radically change the situation. In 1989, he abolished the autonomy of the region. In response, the Albanians staged armed protests and made full independence from Serbia their first priority. Strictly speaking, the conflict in Kosovo triggered the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
Bloody massacres in the beginning of the 1990s in Croatia and Bosnia diverted the attention of the world community from Kosovo. During the second half of the 1990s, the situation in Kosovo flared up again. Using the support of the West, the Albanians created the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and tried to separate the region militarily. They did not succeed, but they won NATO's "help" - the West unleashed the war in 1999 bypassing the UN. As a result of the bombings, the Serbian army left the region, and Kosovo became de facto independent from Belgrade.
During subsequent years, the region became an arena of ethnic cleansing. Thousands of Serbs and other non-Albanians left Kosovo; dozens of Orthodox churches and monasteries were burned. Even in such circumstances, the United States and leading EU countries took the side of the Albanians. The official recognition of Kosovo was imminent. On February 17, 2008 the Albanian authorities of the region unilaterally declared independence.
The international community was divided in assessments of the Kosovars' actions. The U.S., Germany, France, Great Britain, most countries of the West and the Middle East soon declared their recognition of the region. Russia, China, India, Brazil and a number of EU countries stated that the recognition of Kosovo's independence was a gross violation of international law.
As of today, it is hard to say how many countries have recognized the precarious independence. The Albanians say that most of the UN member states have done so. However, more than a dozen countries in Africa, Asia and Oceania, made it clear that they were taking their words back, because they had to act so under direct pressure from the West. The U.S. and leading EU countries did not hesitate to bribe hesitating countries.
No matter how questionable Kosovo's rejection from Serbia may look like, Serbia de facto has lost the region. The European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) in Kosovo is in charge of making all major decisions in Kosovo. Its leaders do not conceal an intention to hand over the administration in the region to the Albanian leadership. Protests in Serbia are being ignored.
Serbia that has not recovered completely from the bombings of 1999 intends to become a member of the European Union. In many ways this is a forced measure as hundreds of thousands of Serbs work in Germany, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands. The Serbian authorities managed to achieve visa-free travel regulations with the EU. Europe does not leave any choice for Belgrade. The majority of European leaders believe that Serbia can enter the EU only giving up Kosovo.
Serbia does not agree to part with Kosovo directly, but the country has made a number of concessions on the key issue during the last five years. Suffice it to say that Kosovo Albanian delegations now attend international forums, with "Republic of Kosovo" signs on their desks. The next step is the region's membership in the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE ...
The Serbs are still the majority in four communities in the north of the region. They do their best to withdraw from Kosovo and join Serbia. However, Belgrade does not much help them much. The above-mentioned communities are "safely" included in the single financial system of Kosovo, which is based on the funds of the European Union.
Nowadays, Serbia has recognized identity cards issued by the Albanian authorities of the region. Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to mutually recognize their university degrees. The Kosovo Albanians can cross the Serbian borders and travel across the country with Kosovo license plates. The sides with the "mediation" of the EU have agreed to exchange cadaster books and inventory data of registry offices.
In addition, the treaty on the joint border management is already in force. Serbia has officially recognized the "Customs of Kosovo" seal and declined the trade embargo. Finally, Belgrade and Pristina are about to exchange their officials - i.e. ambassadors.
The West's special operation called "The Separation of Kosovo from Serbia" is nearing completion. However, its organizers may eventually lose the game. They opened the "Pandora's box", and Albanian separatists are raising their heads in Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece. In Macedonia, they attempted to take weapons in their hands once, and NATO had to take quite an effort not to let the conflict burn. The Greater Albania was hardly a part of the plan of Western strategists, but they did everything to make the dream of Albanian radicals come true.
Meanwhile, the Kosovo boomerang has affected other countries of Europe. Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders are in fact heading for separation from Great Britain, Spain and Belgium respectively. Hungarian separatists in Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine are raising their heads too.
Five years later, it is clear that the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo, patronized by the West, has not normalized the situation in the Balkans. Instead, it has undermined international law and complicated the state of affairs even in the countries that are not related to Serbia and Kosovo.
Germany continues the discussion about the completion and commissioning of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. For the time being, it is too early to ascertain that the opponents of the project are gaining the upper hand