Dusty Book of Old Balkan Rhetoric Should Be Kept Closed
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published April 21, 2017

Following what has been happening recently in parts of the Western Balkans brings back to my memory a scheme which a western diplomat familiar with the region claimed that might normalize the situation between Kosovo and Serbia. It was many years ago when he told me that according to whom the deadlock would be overcome if Serbia was given Northern Mitrovica and in turn Kosovo would get Presevo Valley. According to him, at a later stage Kosovo could unite with Albania in a sort of what he called 'a loose federation'.

 I mentioned the above as the question of the redrawing of the borders in the Balkans is not a new topic. It pops up from time to time, sometimes accompanied with a bellicose veil. "The Balkan region has been partitioned and re-partitioned and will be partitioned again. There is nothing wrong with recent calls for new partitions except that they should not be advertised as “solutions” - new territorial arrangements will define the pattern of future conflict rather than prevent new conflicts and rivalries for great power support," says David B. Kanin, an adjunct professor of international relations at Johns Hopkins University and a former senior intelligence analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in an analysis carried by the website Transform, Transcend, Translate - TransConflict on March 16, 2017.

In other words but set in the context of region's prolonged accession to the European Union and the  languish approach of some of its members to undertake ‘bolder steps’ towards further enlargement of the block such a concern was articulated by Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama when he told Mr. Andrew MacDowall in an interview carried by the website POLITICO on April 14, 2017 that Europe would face “a nightmare” if the Balkans “go crazy” because EU accession is off the agenda, with the region becoming a “gray zone in which other actors have more influence than the European Union.”

"There is a lack of understanding, or a lack of vision in not realizing that this region needs Europe, but Europe needs this region too, for a secure and safe Europe,” Rama said. “How can the union be secure and safe if the Balkans will go crazy? How can the European Union allow at its own heart a gray zone where other actors can have a larger influence than the EU itself? This is nonsense in terms of security, in terms of safety.”

Asked if he would take a union with Kosovo off the table, Rama said: “No, because the only way to keep the Balkans in this peaceful and cooperative mode … is to keep the path to the EU open, to keep the perspective clear, to keep emotions about the EU positive. No one would like to turn (in) on themselves and look for smaller unions, everyone would like to unite in the big union. But if there’s no hope, no perspective, no space, then, of course, little unions may happen.”

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