Time magazine, March 24, 1999
Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs 1998-2000
January 29, 2023
If the wording of the ‘Basic Agreement’ presented by the western “Great Five” (EU, USA, Germany, France, Italy) on Kosovo and Metohija, which has been circulated for a while in the Albanian media and as of January 20 in the Serbian social networks as well, is anywhere close to the authentic one, it cannot be viewed as any sort of an agreement. It’s rather an ultimatum compelling Serbia to de facto recognize the enforced secession of her Province.
The document, originally attributed to French President Macron and German Chancellor Scholz (1), leaders of two largest European democracies, stands out as another gross violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1244, the basic principles of democratic international relations, the UN Charter, the Paris Charter, and the OSCE’s Helsinki Final Act.
Inspired by their own power and greatness, this text humiliates Serbia and the Serbian nation by telling Serbia to observe equality, sovereignty, territorial integrity and state insignia of the so-called Kosovo and, for that matter, of all other states except her own sovereignty, territorial integrity and her internationally recognized borders confirmed as such by the UN, the OSCE, other international organizations, and the Badinter Arbitration Committee.
The Scholz-Macron paper demands Serbia not to oppose so-called Kosovo’s membership in all international organizations, including the United Nations. Therein, Serbia is expected to cooperate in deconstruction of her own integrity, own Constitutional order and international standing so that the ‘Kosovo case’ subsequently could not be utilized by any party as a precedent for future unilateral secessions.
The authors intend to use Serbia’s yielding to such an ultimatum as a way for non-recognizers (Spain, Romania, Slovakia, Greece, and Cyprus), which involve five EU and four NATO members, to recognize so-called Kosovo and thus heal internal disunity within both the EU and NATO.
Their other objective is to transfer all responsibility for casualties, devastation and consequences of using weapons with depleted uranium during NATO’s 1999 aggression onto Serbia, even though Serbia herself was its victim.
Their final objective is to incorporate Serbia into a so-called ‘alliance of democracies’ set up to confront Russia’s and China’s alleged “autocratic” governments.
This shameful paper will stay in the future as an illustration of how the expansionist objectives of the military NATO aggression against Serbia (FRY) in 1999 had for decades been continued by other means such as ultimatums and threats of economic and political coercion.
The Scholz-Macron proposal has now turned into a US-backed EU initiative, coupled with the latest activities of the ‘Big Five’ in Belgrade, are nothing short of usurpation and prejudging the prerogatives and decision of the UN Security Council as the only body in charge of deciding on issues pertaining to peace and security; they ignore UN Security Council Resolution 1244 as a universally binding legal act of the highest order and seek to drag Serbia, a peaceful and militarily neutral country, into a global confrontation. This reckless, one-sided and arbitrary course of action, in addition to being anti-Serb, is fraught with unforeseeable consequences.
Kosovo and Metohija is not a frozen conflict, as purported by the West and echoed in Belgrade, nor can it be resolved by presenting an ultimatum to Serbia. A hypothetical acceptance of the ultimatum would not save either peace or safety of Serbs in the Province, only help the conflict potential accumulate, encourage other separatisms and humiliate Serbia and the Serbian nation.
The root cause and the essence of the problem concerning Kosovo and Metohija lies in the geopolitics determined by the dominance of the leading Western powers and their expansion to the East. NATO does its utmost to turn Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the entire Serbia, into a springboard for its incursion eastwards, to pit Serbia against Russia and China.
The issue of the status of the Province of Kosovo and Metohija, however, cannot be resolved by accepting any ultimatum but instead by insisting on the observance of the Constitution, as well as of the internationally recognized borders and UN SC Resolution 1244.
Even if Serbia surrendered to the ultimatum, the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija would remain unsafe, their illegally occupied property would not be repossessed, some 250,000 expelled Serbs and other non-Albanians would remain unable to return to their homes freely and safely, Serbian state-owned and socially-owned property would remain usurped.
If anything, Serbia should be aware that yielding to an ultimatum could only result in speeding up dangerous trends of confrontation and escalation, at the regional and the European level, just the same.
A potential consent given by Serbia to the so-called Kosovo joining the United Nations and other international organizations would be tantamount to the recognition of the latter’s international legal personality, entailing all sorts of consequences, beginning with an escalation and going all the way to the creation of Greater Albania at the expense of state territories not only of Serbia but also of few other Balkan states.
Is there a single soul in Serbia who believes in new guarantees and promises given by the West? Was it not Angela Merkel who recently cautioned us to not trust their assurances! Or has our gullibility already entered the stage of no limits!
The promises involving self-governance for Serbs, the Community of Serbian Municipalities (albeit one established ‘pursuant to the Kosovo Constitution’, according to Chollet), and ‘formalizing the status of the Serbian Orthodox Church’, do not in the least alter the true character of the Scholz-Macron (EU’s) ultimatum. Why?
Because its essence lies in the request that Serbia first and tacitly and later on formally also legally, recognize the independence of so-called Kosovo and accept its membership in the United Nations and other international organizations. The rest is merely a part of a more or less convincing diplomatic cosmetics and the tactics to ‘save the face’ of the victim.
History warns that peace, stability, and better life cannot be preserved by means of conceding to ultimatums at the expense of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Let us recall that the Munich Agreement of 1938 on carving out the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, an ultimatum made behind Russia’s back, which was also publicly touted by the then-leaders of Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom as the one saving peace in Europe. It is very perilous that those countries’ contemporary leaders are unaware of past lessons.
The position taken vis-à-vis the Constitution, UN SC Resolution 1244, internationally recognized borders of Serbia, and international law, is not a matter of an ultimatum or of a one-off deal, but rather the matter of the position taken vis-à-vis the survival of Serbia as an old European state, and of Serbian nation as a factor contributing to peace, stability and progress in the Balkans, Europe, and the world.
Such status and reputation of Serbia are reaffirmed by the majority of countries in the world, by some two-thirds of the planet’s population, who did not and wish not to recognize this illegal construct as a state; among those is a not so small number of countries which, at Serbia’s request, withdrew their previous recognitions without fearing ultimatum-fashioned pressures from the West when doing so.
- No official version of the “Basic Agreement” in any language has been published. I have only an unofficial text in Serbian composed of the preamble and 10 articles, which are widely circulated by electronic mass media.
- Jovanovic is also President of the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals.
- As of January 2023, 99 countries have recognised the Republic of Kosovo, down from 119 in 2015. See all details and countries here.