Nastic: Serbia must not be a toy of Western countries and interests; greater pressure on Pristina is needed

Poslanica nemačkog Bundestaga Žaklin Nastić
Source: Bundestag/Olaf Krostitz

Member of the German Bundestag from the Left, Zaklin Nastic, in an interview for Kosovo Online, condemned the pressures of the EU, and especially of Germany, which are directed only at Belgrade because according to her, they show that Berlin is not a neutral partner. Nastic estimates that this means that Pristina, that is, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, will increasingly violate agreements and that this will lead to further conflicts.

"Serbia is currently under great pressure to agree to the Franco-German plan, but Serbia and its citizens must no longer be the playthings of Western countries and their interests; the people must decide," Nastic says.

He also adds that the German government is "blindfolded" in the conduct of foreign policy and that it is ashamed that Berlin did not condemn the ethnically motivated attacks on the Serbs in Kosovo at the beginning of the year.

After 15 years of the declaration of Kosovo's independence, we have a war in Europe again. Did the recognition of Kosovo create a precedent that led to instability in Europe and indirectly to the war in Ukraine?

The secession of Kosovo, contrary to international law, from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia through a war of aggression by NATO undoubtedly created a precedent to which other countries refer today. Then NATO not only violated international law but also violated UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which was adopted by its member states and confirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In annexing the four Ukrainian regions of Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson, Russian President Vladimir Putin invoked the violation of international law in the secession of Kosovo, as he did during the annexation of Crimea.

Because of their own violation of international law, the leaders of Western industrialized nations are not very credible when they now demand unconditional respect.

Of course, I condemn each of these illegal wars, there is no better or worse.

Does international law still apply in the world?

International law is characterized by its universal validity. Unfortunately, NATO member states, in particular, have repeatedly violated international law, thus weakening confidence in its implementation. NATO's war against international law against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the recognition of the secession of Kosovo are just some examples of how the West violated international law.

In order for international law to be unconditionally enforced again, all those who have violated it must be held accountable. If some nations continue to be brought before the International Criminal Court or special tribunals, but others like the US are not, it weakens the credibility of international jurisdiction and international law will be reduced to a pile of paper.

How do you see the future of Kosovo?

It is no secret that I criticize the secession of Kosovo, which was a violation of international law, and I see the recognition of its independence by the West as a historical mistake. The country is dysfunctional, corruption is rampant, and unemployment is staggeringly high, while Nazi collaborators like Xhafer Deva are respected by sections of the population, all the way down to the government level. State building in Kosovo as a "transatlantic project" - as CDU politician Gisela Manderla described it in 2020 - has failed in my opinion. However, we must find a solution that is satisfactory to both sides and that must not be fought with weapons. That is why I expect from the political actors in Pristina constructive cooperation with the international community, and especially with Serbia, in order to guarantee a peaceful coexistence that ensures the rights belonging to the Serbian and all other minorities. Discrimination and attacks on minorities must be stopped immediately, and Pristina must do everything to shed light on these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice. They have to measure the democratic constitutional state they are promoting by that.

The EU and the US are putting a lot of pressure on Belgrade and Pristina in order to achieve a quick solution with the Franco-German plan. Is that plan a possible solution to the Kosovo problem?

At this moment, Serbia is undoubtedly under great pressure to agree to the Franco-German plan, which is not yet available to me or the public, and to de facto recognize Kosovo. However, possible solutions should be carefully considered and discussed, also with the Serbian public, in order to ensure that they are in line with the interests of all involved parties. I believe that the establishment of the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities, which both sides committed to in the Brussels Agreement in 2013 and which should also be part of the Franco-German plan, is a step in the right direction. However, Albin Kurti recently announced that the approval for the establishment of that Community would be conditional on the recognition of Kosovo by Belgrade. The fact that he thereby announces a violation of the 2013 agreement raises serious doubts about his reliability as a negotiating partner. It is also questionable whether he would adhere to the agreements provided for in the Franco-German plan. After all, the Serbian population must be included in such far-reaching decision-making processes, for example through a referendum. Serbia and its population must no longer be a toy of Western countries and their interests, for me it is the people who decide.

The Franco-German proposal envisages Kosovo's membership in the UN, NATO, and the EU, what would that mean and why does official Berlin insist on it?

Kosovo's membership in the UN, NATO, and the EU would mean that its independence and political sovereignty are recognized at the international level and thereby raised to a hitherto unprecedented level. This would give additional legitimacy to the precedent set by the secession of Kosovo. However, it is also about expanding spheres of influence. Berlin and other governments support this proposal because it offers a cheap way to expand and consolidate their influence in the Balkans. I think this is not only wrong but also dangerous.

Pristina opposes the establishment of the CSM, which was agreed upon in Brussels. Why is there no pressure from Germany on Pristina to implement all signed agreements?

I strongly criticize the fact that Pristina has so far refused to form the Community of Serb-majority Municipalities. After all, the formation of the Community, which was agreed upon in 2013, should have been implemented a long time ago. Recently, the lack of respect for the rights of the Serbian minority almost brought us to the brink of renewed armed conflict. The "Traffic light" coalition in Germany, including some members of the Greens and the SPD, are also happy to claim that this risks a situation similar to that in Republika Srpska and that it creates instability. I believe that this is a false and demagogic argument that also aims to support Kurti from Germany because there are countries where such communities of municipalities function very well. In Spain alone, numerous autonomous municipal associations have powers in the fields of education, culture, transport, and economy. Those communities have an important role in promoting cultural and linguistic identities and representing the interests of municipalities at the regional and national levels.

As for the absence of pressure to implement the agreement, it can be noted that the West acts unilaterally and wants to force Serbia to give up its request to establish the Community. And of course, this is also about the fight against the sphere of influence of Russia and China.

How do you see the role of Serbia in the current talks on Kosovo?

I welcome the fact that, despite the circumstances, a viable negotiated solution is being approached. Despite the massive pressure exerted on Serbia for years, I hope that a constructive solution to the conflict will be reached. But, as I said before, the Serbs, who suffered a lot, especially from the NATO war of aggression, for me are the ones who should decide.

To a parliamentarian's question from the Bundestag, the German government replied a few days ago that it had no knowledge of ethnically motivated attacks in Kosovo, although only since the beginning of this year there have been several armed attacks on Serbian children and youth. Do you believe that the German government does not want to see this and why is that?

At the beginning of the mandate, our federal government, primarily the Minister of Foreign Affairs from the Greens, Annalena Baerbock, officially decided to act in a values-based and feminist way in future foreign policy. How little universal importance is attached to these values is shown by the non-reaction of the German government to the attacks during the Orthodox Christmas celebration, when an Albanian member of the Kosovo security forces shot two young people, including an eleven-year-old child. I am deeply ashamed of the authorities' silence on this. There is no doubt in my mind that the German government is blindfolded in its foreign policy. This has nothing to do with a values-based foreign policy.

Is it good for the EU to put so much pressure on Serbia, even taking into account the provoking of political instability?

I reject the actions of the EU and the German government. The pressure here is completely illegitimate; the EU is not a neutral partner. After all, NATO countries, and therefore large parts of the EU, waged war against Yugoslavia in violation of international law and thereby caused the current situation. The pressure will only create further conflicts and in this case, since it is one-sided only towards Belgrade, it will lead to Albin Kurti increasingly breaking promises and agreements and becoming rigid in his uncompromising position. As long as the German government and the EU deny the interests of Serbia and the Serbs in Kosovo, they have no right to claim to be neutral mediators.