Early on Sunday morning, the Serbian government moved to take down a monument erected by Albanians in Presevo, a town in Serbia bordering Kosovo. This lead to a few thousand Albanian protestors taking to the streets, telling Europe to “Open their eyes”, and to “Stop Discrimination” in Serbia. Who wouldn’t sympathize with the poor Albanians? They aren’t even allowed to raise a simple monument! Poor investigative journalism at its finest, and a typical ramification of a failed U.S. foreign policy.
International reaction varied, from neutral to slight criticism of the Serbian government. The British embassy in Serbia showed regret that the Serbian government acted so swiftly when an agreement was apparently close to being reached regarding moving the monument to a private location. Steven Spark, the U.S. spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Serbia encouraged all sides to continue negotiations to find a solution to the dispute.
This is yet another fine exampled related to a foreign policy blunder by U.S. and fellow Western states. The monument is dedicated to the casualties of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (UCPMD), an insurgent group in neighbouring areas of Kosovo that formed immediately following the Kosovo war in 1999. The UCPMD had the goal of uniting Presevo and two other regions with Kosovo. An offshoot of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), its status is rather an interesting one.
UCPMD is internationally recognized as a terrorist organization, including by the United States. Its parent however, the KLA, was taken off the U.S. list of terrorist organization merely months before NATO began its 78 day bombing campaign of Serbia in 1999. This occurred despite the KLA’s known ties to Al-Qaeda, and footage has since even appeared showing Osama Bin Laden at a KLA training camp. Both terror groups also have ties to an illegal organ trafficking ring where Serb and Roma, men, women and children were kidnapped, taken to Albania and had their organs harvested, and left for dead.
To justify criticizing the Serbian government for demolishing the monument on Sunday, even though the deadline was 3 days earlier, one must understand the real context behind the monument. Serbs feel the same way about the monument as how Americans would feel if a monument commemorating Al-Qaeda was put in New York City. Despite this, the Serbian government gave over a month’s notice to take it down, or even move it into a private space. The issue is not one of violating freedom of expression, but the commemoration of a terrorist group is downright illegal, and insulting to the remaining Serbs in Presevo.
A significant number of media outlets are not even giving the full story regarding Albanian reactions to the monument’s removal. In neighbouring Kosovo, Serbian graves have been desecrated. Meanwhile, the prime minister of Albania, Sali Berisha, said that the disposal of the monument is further proof that all Albanians need to be united into one state, to protect their “freedom” and that the monument was taken down due to “deep-rooted ethnic hatred.” Thus, the nature of the monument is ignored, and is followed by complete disregard for territorial integrity of neighbouring states by calling for a Greater Albania.
Where are the Western condemnations of Berisha’s statements? One major pre-requisite for joining the European Union is that a candidate state must not have any territorial ambitions, yet the statements were not condemned. Serbs have for decades pleaded to Western states that there is a plot to form a “Greater Albania,” and nothing more affirms the claim than Prime Minister Berisha’s statement.
It is hard to say whether the U.S. could ever right their wrongs in the Balkans, but no attempt has yet to be made. The U.S. has vehemently supported the Albanian cause in the Balkans, despite knowing their ties to Al-Qaeda. Let us not forget that the Albanians have already begun to bite the hand that fed them:
- 2007 - Albanians attempted to commit a terrorist attack at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
- 2011 - An Albanian opened fire on a bus full of American soldiers in Frankfurt, Germany, killing two.
- 2012 - An Albanian was caught plotting to blow up nightclubs in Tampa, Florida.
- 2012 - An American Albanian was sentenced to 15 years for funding a Muslim terrorist group in Pakistan.
Presevo Albanians may have played a strategic hand by provoking the Serbian government by erecting the monument, entirely expecting it to be taken down. As a result, they now have an “excuse” to legitimize their attempt to break away from Serbia and join Kosovo. Even worse, expect to see an escalation of violence against Serbs in Kosovo, who already live in inhumane conditions. Now would be a very good opportunity for the U.S. to start righting its wrongs.