Monday, September 05, 2011

Serbian blindness

EUObserver reports some Serbian reactions to the custom stamp deal. According to the article:
For his part, Serbia's minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, on Sunday told press that Kosovo customs officials will still not be allowed to man crossing points in northern Kosovo and that customs income based on the new stamps will not be allowed to go to Pristina.

Radenko Nedeljkovic, the head of Serb enclave's local authorities, put it more bluntly. "I am sure that there will be no Albanian customs officers at the Brnjak and Jarinje crossings. As far as the stamp is concerned, it can be used south of the Ibar River," he said, referring to the river that separates the enclave from Pristina-controlled Kosovo.

I don't understand the exact meaning of this. However, if it means that Serbia intends to keep allowing the smuggling like it always happened it is bound to fail. As I have written before I think Kosovo's budget deficit due to its quarrel with the IMF is one of the reasons for the present trouble. So Kosovo needs every cent it can lay its hand on and it has an urgent need to repair holes like the one in the Northern border. If Serbia wants to keep the initiative the best it can do is to dictate the new situation itself: it should collect customs at the border and send part of it to Pristina. But it could shape the situation by keeping some of the money for the North itself and for costs, not accepting Albanian custom officers, making a difference between the North and the rest of Kosovo, demanding "exit" stamps near the Ibar, etc. The alternative is to expect that Kosovo build border posts along the Ibar and I don't see that happen.

In the recent incidents there is a division of labor between the US and the EU. The US provides the ideas, while the EU takes care of the implementation. An important role is played by Robert Cooper - the EU "negotiator". In his articles and books Cooper has written that one should use "rougher methods" when dealing with "pre-modern" states: But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era - force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle..

When one considers that this kind of interventionist ideas came into being as a consequence of the Balkan wars of the early 1990s there can be little doubt that he sees the countries there as "pre-modern". It is this kind of colonial thinking by the Badinter Commission that started the problems in Yugoslavia. I consider it very harmful as it dehumanizes those "primitive" people and justifies all kinds of outrages against them. This is how America's Indians got eradicated. In my opinion we should always look at what valid arguments people have - even if we consider them "pre-modern". In some cases like ethnic cleansing special targetted measures may be justified - but who dares to say after Hitler that only "pre-modern" politicians do such things?

The recent trouble started when Cooper got closer involved with Kosovo. I don't doubt that US ambassador Dell and others have formulated the goals. When Cooper was Blair's senior advisor on foreign policy he followed US policy too with his "poodle" politics: Cooper has more ideas about the means than about the ends. If he is now happy to implement US policy it is only a continuation from his previous behavior.

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