CEAS announcement - When the 2019 Serbia is calling – Support to the Serb List is support to a common European Future

Announcement of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies from Belgrade regarding the early elections in Kosovo and Metohija

The invitation of the official Belgrade, in the process of European integration and strengthening relations with the political West, to vote for the Serb list in yesterday's elections in Kosovo and Metohija (KiM)  was not a call to vote for a monster, or hate speech, but a call to vote for a common European perspective. 

It was also a call to define common, more inclusive, more transparent and aligned electoral and polling practices for the future, in accordance with the regional and global democratic trends overcoming ethnic and linguistic barriers, and not a hate speech, as perniciously insinuated and, unfortunately, causing penalties for the Serb list in the presence of the Western international community or under its auspices. 

When, after the end of WWII, Germany called to NATO, or to unification some three decades ago, what was that – hate speech or recognition of a new reality and laying foundations for new circumstances to bring peace and prosperity to everyone? What is the 2019 Serbia, a country in the process of the EU membership negotiations or part of Yugoslavia under the UN sanctions from the nineties? 

Yesterday's elections in Kosovo and Metohija are special by many other things. Although almost all political representatives are majority – from Albanian political options, but also from minority – to the great and unpleasant surprise,  deliberately and maliciously overlook it or relativize to absurdity, with tacit support of many Western players, they are taking place twenty years after the end of the war conflicts and about ten years since the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, not recognized by the Republic of Serbia, on a territory covered by the presence of KFOR, UNMIK and EULEX, on a territory that not only the official Belgrade, but also many UN member states, four NATO member states, five EU member states and two nuclear powers – members of the UNSC, China and Russia, have not recognized as a sovereign state.

Bearing in mind the expectations of the political West from Belgrade and Prishtina to achieve a compromise and comprehensive multidimensional agreement to formalize their present complicated relations, untenable from the aspect of continuation of democratization and stabilization, as shown by the electoral atmosphere and circumstances, their outcome will significantly determine the European future of citizens in the rest of Serbia, who cannot cast the ballot there. 

Citizens in the rest of Serbia, of all political affiliations, national and religious communities, have for years now demonstrated a great understanding for the challenges faced by the citizens in Kosovo and Metohija and displaced persons across the rest of Serbia, especially for the challenges of the Serb and other minority communities in KiM and provided a significant support to overcome them in a peaceful and sustainable way, in accordance with the common European aspirations.  

The peculiarities of the historical and institutional relations between Belgrade and Serbia and the unresolved status of KiM before the global international community GIVE A MORAL political imperative to such an approach. Among other things, it is articulated in great budgetary and other types of support which, regardless of the current ruling party in Belgrade, comes from taxation of all citizens from the rest of Serbia, irrespective of their ethnic, religious and other appurtenance. 

However, it is equally important that the official Belgrade, despite the difficult legacy of the past and the complexity of the topical geopolitical situation, is trying, in almost impossible situation, to take difficult decision on the future of its relations with Prishtina that would not threaten anyone's European future. 

The economically strong rest of Serbia, as firmly anchored in European institutions and flows as possible, is in the interest of all citizens who cast the ballot yesterday in KiM, where we – Hungarians, Serbs, Bosniacs, Albanians and over twenty minority national communities living in the rest of Serbia, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, Catholics and others, liberals, democrats, progressives, conservatives – could not participate. 

In order to find a compromise between a comprehensive multidimensional agreement between Belgrade and Prishtina on the one hand and keep Belgrade's European orientation on the other, it takes a democratically voiced majority will of the citizens in the rest of Serbia, in the manner envisaged by the laws and the current RS Constitution. The citizens of KiM, by the way, were not able to vote for the current Constitution, which is yet another proof of complexity and untenability of the current situation.

The mentioned sanction against the Serb list due to the When Serbia is Calling video clip is just an example of that CEAS has been persistently pointing out in the past few years – that there is an organized policy of denying the painful and complicated measures for facing and overcoming the difficult legacy of the past and for making a step towards the common European future which Belgrade is making. On the other hand, there is the same vocal silence related to numerous retrograde trends in KiM as well. It is strange that this hypocrisy, with all visible and less visible measures accompanying it, are not more clearly indicated by the numerous allegedly democratic and pro-European players in Serbia Proper's public life, not too rarely funded by the political West. 

Among those who participated in the KiM elections there are the once who address the state of play of democracy in the rest of Serbia with special concern. From what viewpoints? Often times from the illegitimately occupied space of democratic opposition, hijacked by manipulating the status of MPS and parliamentary parties or by abusing the democratic concept of „one person – one vote“. They derided it through the concept of „one person – one party“, adding insult to injury by requesting the equal time in media as the parties with millions of constituents.

When speaking of the European Movement of Serbs in KiM, what exactly does one have in mind, an imaginary Europe, where the roles of victims and endangered ones in the Western Balkans were cast back in the nineties never to alter, because they generate excellent private and interest-based political profit, or the 2019 EU, with whose member states the official Belgrade, not the so-called democratic opposition, has been cooperating more and more intensively and efficiently, from the Eastern and Central European members states, from Poland via Hungary, all the way to Greece? Why are these elections in KiM legitimate and relevant to participate despite all the absurdities and weaknesses (and, by the way, what had substantially changed until yesterday other than tear gas in the Parliament?), and the upcoming parliamentary elections in the rest of Serbia are not so, as estimated by the partners of the „European movers“of the KiM Serbs, and not even the negotiators from the EU, the eponymous phrase from their name, can help out there?

These, umpteenth early elections in KiM, regardless of the efforts of the Kosovar colleagues from NGOs and commentators of the Western Balkans' situation, to depict them as a feast of democracy, are actually special by the great number of unusually direct addresses of the Western ambassadors highlighting the compromised persons in the electoral lists of most Kosovar Albanian parties, and, for a good measure, by institutionalized corruption and war crime investigations.  

They are also unusual for having a rare actor ready to go public with a statement of how many crimes against Serbs and other non-Albanians have been resolved in court proceedings ever since the international presence in KiM. In a nutshell, out of almost two thousand, almost none. This is illustrated by attitudes and obstructions of all key majority Albanian actors during the establishment of Kosovo Specialist Chambers for trying the KLA (UCK) war criminals. 

The pre-election period was marked by a high level of double standards operated by the commentator circles that have a bearing on policy-making of the West towards the Western Balkans. Why are the citizens in the rest of Serbia the only ones who are not allowed to break out of the inferno from the nineties with the same current Western partners who are acceptable when acting as individual players or EU and NATO member states in a way acceptable to the other regional countries? Why is the visit of the US State Secretary Mike Pompeo good news for Montenegro and North Macedonia, and the appointment of Richard Grennel, diplomat from the same institutions, same circles and same methods of operation, as the White House envoy for peace talks between Belgrade and Prishtina is at the same time found very questionable, even perilous, by the same commentator and political circles? Hypocrisy or articulation of somebody else's political interests that are not necessarily the interests of the majority Serbia – that being the European integration?

For all the above, voting for the Serb List was not support to hate speech or a monster at all, as deviously insinuated. The solidarity demonstrated yesterday by their voters showed us in the rest of Serbia, who are also advocating for European integration, is note-worthy. Their voters demonstrated support to: common security and defence regional cooperation; ethnic and other types of solidarity and cooperation synergizing towards progress for all, which is the only peaceful and sustainable solution. 

Continued support to the Serb List in the given circumstances is not a game where one party necessarily loses so that the other can win. That is something that many actors in yesterday's KiM elections have tried already. Some learned their lesson from the horrendous nineties that such policy yields no results, others still haven't. Further support to the Serb List in the described situation means support to common stable, democratic and European future for all. 

In Belgrade, 7 October 2019