The case against Kosovo independence

Europe does not need two Albanian states.

kosovo rally 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
kosovo rally 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
If I were to say that Israel deserved to qualify for the European championship, most local football fans might agree. Israel played really well - the best ever. However, England deserved to qualify too - especially if you look back in history: They invented the game, after all. Nevertheless, neither of them will be heading to the championship because there are certain rules and conditions which preclude that from happening. If someone came along insisting that Israel and England take part in the finals anyway and made room for them by excluding teams that had won their places fair and square, such behavior would destroy the entire football enterprise. The championships would become meaningless. This is how things work in professional sports. Agreed upon rules must be applied - equally across the board. And that's also how international relations must work. Fair is fair and rules are rules. For instance, when someone states: "Kosovo deserves independence," as my colleague Tonin Gjuraj, ambassador of Albania, did in his Jerusalem Post op-ed (November 27), people of good intentions would be inclined to first ask: What are the rules of the game? OK, they would say, if that's possible, why not? But in this case the rules are clear: It is not possible without agreement from Serbia! International law, above all the UN Charter and its fundamental principle of sovereignty, guarantees territorial integrity and equality of states, and Kosovo is part of sovereign state - the Republic of Serbia. That has been approved once again by Resolution 1244 of the Security Council. Regarding the rights of national minorities, Albanians of Kosovo included, it is clear that creating a state of their own is not one of those rights. That is why Albania's ambassador, wisely choosing his words, claims that Kosovo deserves independence; he does not say that it has the right. He is advocating for his fellow Albanians - that is understandable - but also carefully avoiding mentioning that an independent Kosovo would be another Albanian state in Europe. Two states, side by side, for about four million people - that would be difficult to explain to Israelis who are struggling to preserve a single Jewish state. Creating a state for Kosovo could be a first step toward joining it with the Albanian state - that was Hitler's solution. Only during the Hitler period did a so-called Greater Albania exist, and only during the Nazi regime was Kosovo treated as a separate region by itself, named New Albania. That was a time of ethnic cleansing which produced the Albanian majority in the area. How could anyone justify such an approach today? Wherever you look in history, Kosovo was part of either Serbia or some other empire that occasionally dominated in the Balkans, but never part of the Albanian state. In fact, there was no Albanian state until 1912. A MODERN Serbian state was established after the war in the Balkans. The Kingdom of Serbia, on most of the territory of the old Serbian Empire, included Kosovo and Macedonia. Distorting history can only have a boomerang effect. My Albanian colleague claims: "The area was annexed by Yugoslavia against Kosovar resistance in 1918. This annexation violated the right of the Kosovars to self-determination and, therefore, violated international law." He is wrong on three counts. First, in 1918, Yugoslavia did not exist at all. With the downfall of Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires in 1918 the "Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians" was established. Second, the pillar of that new state was the Kingdom of Serbia, and Kosovo was part of it. Finally, since the right to self-determination never belonged to the minorities, it became proof that Albanians in Kosovo always had a status of a minority. Since there was no annexation of Kosovo in 1918, that raises the question: Where does that idea come from? There is only one case in history when the notion of annexation was connected with Kosovo - from 1941 to 1944 when the Nazis annexed Kosovo to Albania and it was called "annexed territories." So, here we are again at the idea of Greater Albania, which besides Albania and Kosovo, at that time included large parts of Macedonia, Montenegro and South Serbia. The idea of Greater Albania established by the "1878 First League of Prizren," was and still is the dream of Kosovar irredentists, who organized a so-called liberation movement on the eve of the last century which Serbia treated as a terrorist organization. It is worth recalling that during World War II the 21st SS Division "Skenderbeg" was created and comprised primarily of Kosovar Muslim recruits. They committed genocide against the Serbian and Jewish populations in Kosovo as well as in Bosnia and Croatia. Therefore, trying to make the Albanian case to Israelis - as the ambassador did in his op-ed - using the example of the 200 Jews who survived the Holocaust in Albania (under Italian control) is disingenuous. It is equally cynical to claim that "Kosovo is not and will not be a Muslim state" considering that during the past eight years over 150 Christian churches have been destroyed while 400 mosques financed by Islamic countries have been constructed. The writer is ambassador of Serbia in Israel.