by Eric Vögelin for the Saker blog
The President of Serbia and Avdullah Hoti, the Prime Minister (perhaps it would be more correct to say “self-styled Prime Minister”) of NATO’s 1999 war booty, the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo were hosted for a conference at the White House on 3 and 4 September. The ostensible purpose of the meeting was to iron out their economic relations, as if anything were there to iron out given the devastated condition of both their economies. Putting aside the sensible question of why anybody at the White House would even care about this very local issue enough to devote the good part of two days to it, and bearing in mind that nothing in the Balkans is as it appears at first glance, the real agenda was, of course, quite a bit different. It had to do with putting finishing touches on legitimizing Kosovo as a separate state with international attributes, and economic concerns only served to camouflage that intention.
When the dust settled, the Serbian President had signed what must appear as one of the weirdest documents in the history of international relations. Before making any further editorial comments, here it is:
What is so bizarre about it? It is a scrap of paper adorned with the signature of a head of state, but without any heading or logo, or place where it was signed. To add insult to injury, the signatory is identified merely as “President.” President of what, the local Rotary Club or Hunters’ Association? Would a statesman who cares about the dignity of his office or the prestige of his country sign something like this? And what is this, anyway? Is it a diplomatic document or the signatory’s private notes, written out to himself? Interesting questions, worth pondering.
For a contrast, here is President Donald Trump’s letter to his Kosovo Albanian guest, Avdullah Hoti, commemorating the occasion:
That looks a lot better and more dignified, doesn’t it?
For an economic agreement between two Balkan entities that few in the West have heard of, care about, or could locate on the map, reached with the involvement of President Trump and members of his staff, the strangely laid out document, it must be said, contains some even stranger provisions.
It says, among other things, that the parties will “diversify their energy supplies.” What does this Aesopian language mean? Are the parties unhappy with their current sources of energy and in need of assistance to secure new ones? Hardly. In light of (a) America’s bitter opposition to North Stream 2, and (b) Secretary of State Pompeo’s recent attempts to “diversify” Belarus’ energy supplies by pushing on it US products that would have to be brought from 10,000 miles away in order to block nearby Russian energy supplies, this phrase can mean only one thing. It is an order to Serbia to abandon any thought of relying on convenient and reasonably priced Russian energy supplies. It also puts an end to Serbia’s role in the Russian European energy distribution scheme, and potentially deprives it of its lucrative position as the South Stream distribution hub. What a great deal for Serbia!
Serbia further accepts to “prohibit the use of 5G equipment supplied by untrusted vendors.” Public health advocates would at this point say “Great, the trip to Washington was not in vain after all, because the scourge of 5G will no longer endanger the health of Serbia’s population, already being decimated by dire cancer generating radioactive consequences of the 1999 NATO bombing.” But the removal of this indisputably noxious Chinese equipment (and that is the whole point of this provision) will not end the scourge but will merely lead to “other mediation efforts in a timely fashion,” e.g. to the substitution of US manufactured deadly 5G networks for those of Huawei.
So the “economic normalization agreement with Kosovo” signed by the president of Serbia’s Hunter’s Association is actually a huge slap to both Russia and China, Serbia’s important geopolitical partners, and incidentally a shot in Serbia’s own foot as well.
Next, there is a provision which Ambassador Richard Grenell, who mediated the talks, might have inserted himself: “Both parties will work with the 69 countries that criminalize homosexuality to push for decriminalization.” What has that got to do with economic relations? And why stop there and not also mandate transgender toilets in Serbian grammar schools?
Serbia is also mandated to transfer its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In parallel fashion, “Kosovo” and Israel will establish diplomatic relations, i.e. Israel recognizes Kosovo. Another great deal for Serbia. By moving its embassy to Jerusalem, Serbia will reward Israel for recognizing the illegal separation of 15% of its territory containing some of its most significant cultural and spiritual sites. That would be analogous to Israel ceding Temple Mount and the Wailing wall to the Arabs and opening embassies in their capitals. And, slap number three, this time to the Arab and Muslim world, for reasons that are impossible to rationally fathom, Serbia obliges itself to “implement measures to restrict Hizballah´s operations and financial activities” on its territory. Whatever position one chooses to take toward “Hizballah” there is nothing for Serbia to restrict because that organization does not conduct any activities on Serbian territory, unless the reference is to “Kosovo” which happens to be a Hizballah stronghold. So why aren´t things called by their real name, and why does a person purporting to represent Serbia consent to being strong-armed into signing such a ludicrous provision, needlessly putting his country in a bad light and courting the contempt of hundreds of millions of Muslims throughout the world?
The next to last point of the Agreement is highly indicative of the political context of the entire affair. It says that in return for “Kosovo” not seeking membership in international organizations for a year, Serbia will “agree to a one-year moratorium on its de-recognition campaign, and will refrain from formally or informally requesting any nation or International Organization not to recognize Kosovo as an independent state.” The formulation is ambiguous but it is framed to support the interpretation that Serbia will refrain from obstructing the recognition of “Kosovo as an independent state” without any time limitations. The sentence is cleverly written by Anglo-Saxon lawyers, including tricky punctuation, to obfuscate that point, but the comma after the word “year” gives the game away. The clause that follows is grammatically separate from the language that precedes it. If President Trump was in a hurry and retyping the whole thing was not an option, any prudent signatory on Serbia’s behalf would have quickly inserted in his own hand after the word refrain the phrase “for the duration of one year,” thus clearly matching the period of “Kosovo’s” commitment to refrain. But as the matter stands, “Kosovo’s” duty to refrain will expire in one year, while Serbia’s obligation to do the same will continue indefinitely after that. Pacta sunt servanda.
Did Serbia’s representative at this meeting have a legal team to assist him? Probably not, because he presumes to be a lawyer himself.
What is the political implication of this provision? It is that the US and EU sponsored process of “Kosovo” legitimation as an “independent state” shall continue unabated, culminating in UN membership, with Serbia renouncing in advance the right to oppose it in any effective way. It is a demonically clever scheme. In the end, Serbia’s de iure recognition of “Kosovo” will become irrelevant because there will no longer be a need to seek its consent or opinion on the subject.
The thought that President Trump arranged this meeting because he needed a foreign policy win before the elections is grossly exaggerated. In his press briefing on 4 September, the same day these discussions were concluded, he did not even mention them or intimate that some spectacular accords which might influence his electoral chances were signed in the Oval Office. That is a clue to the significance he attributes to the visit of his Balkan guests.
For the outlaw “government of Kosovo,” however, this is an important phase in the relentless process of legitimation that is being conducted under the auspices of its US deep state sponsors, whether Trump personally is aware of what is going on or not. For Serbia, the trans-Atlantic trip definitely was not worth it. It was another broad strategic retreat and humiliation. It demonstrates the readiness of Serbia’s leadership to needlessly abase themselves and trade the country’s crown jewels for another lease on their political life, betting on the foreign support they now think they have secured by brown-nosing the global powers-that-be. They better think again, however, and analyse realistically the trajectory of their Montenegrin colleagues.
- I thank a reader of my previous article for correctly spelling my surname, with the umlaut. I had used the English transliteration in order not to confuse some readers. ↑