Featured image: U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Wess Mitchell (left) and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on March 14.
The Serbian government is contemplating a “compromise” over Kosovo.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Wess Mitchell last week that his country was “ready to talk about possible compromises” in order to enter the EU, a radical policy shift that’s long been suspected by his critics and which would have to include changing the constitution in order to be legal. It’s not yet known exactly what he intends to “compromise” on, but individuals such as Timothy Less have been speculating since the end of 2016 that it could amount to a territorial swap whereby the northern Serbian-populated regions of the breakaway province are returned to Belgrade in exchange for the remaining Albanian-inhabited majority of the territory being de-facto recognized by the government as an “independent state”.
The problem with this supposedly “pragmatic” proposal – apart from its dubious morality in surrendering the historic cradle of Serbian civilization and the legal complexities inherent in changing the constitution – is that it could easily produce a “domino effect” throughout the region that sees other geopolitical changes occur as well. Serbia’s majority-Muslim region of Raška, which is commonly referred to by its generic Ottoman-era designation of “Sandzak” whenever it’s mentioned by the Mainstream Media, could possibly be next on the chopping block, as could the Kosovo-bordering and Albanian-populated Preševo Valley. Looking beyond Serbia, Macedonia might end up being “federalized” or outright partitioned between its ethnic Macedonian majority and Albanian minority, which could pave the way for both a “Greater Albania” and a “Big Bulgaria” with time.
Bosnia is another Balkan country that could be immediately affected by any speculative “territorial swaps” or “compromises”, as it’s well known that the country’s Serbian half has been proudly protecting its autonomy in the face of the steady and unconstitutional centralizing tendency from Sarajevo. Current Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations and commander of the United States European Command Curtis Scaparrotti recently fear mongered to Congress that “the Serb population” is a “matter of concern” for him “in particular”, confirming that this Russian-friendly people are still in the US’ crosshairs after almost a quarter of century since the NATO War on Bosnia. Interestingly, the US is publicly against the creation of a separate Croat political entity in this fractured nation, but it’s conceivable that it could also “compromise” on this under the pretext that it’s necessary to stop “Serbian secessionism” in the country.
There’s no way to know for sure whether any of these interconnected scenarios would materialize if President Vucic “compromises” on Kosovo, but there’s also no avoiding the fact that the Balkans have always been a geopolitical Pandora’s Box where even the seemingly smallest developments have a tendency to catalyze fast-moving change throughout the region. Another thing to keep in mind is that the US is the only outside power capable of guiding the course of events here because the extent of Russian influence in the Balkans has been largely exaggerated. Moscow wields much more energy and industrial sway than it does political, and as for China, it only cares about the security of its trade routes and logistics centers. Only America has the military-intelligence wherewithal to effect tangible change in the region, and everything that it seeks to do in this regard will be to the benefit of its EU allies and NATO.
Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.