University Diplomacy professor Ibrahim Gashi, in an interview with The Geopost, commented on the statements of Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin about the Recak massacre, calling them “political madness”, not only of an official but of a criminal state in general, which, according to him, is failing to free itself from the ultranationalist spirit of the Milosevic era.
Regarding the reactions of the internationals to these statements, Gashi estimates that they are expected, but should be more frequent.
Whereas, the publication of books and various propaganda materials made in Serbia, in order to distort the recent history of the war in Kosovo, Gashi sees it as dangerous because “it leaves a mark on the younger generations and therefore should be strongly fought by Kosovo institutions, encouraging and investing financially in supporting projects and scientists from various fields who would prove the other truths of during the war and after the war, as documented in the Recak massacre by then-ambassador William Walker.
Professor Gashi also claims that Russian influence comes through spies who dress in the guise of various international organizations, so care must be taken with these people, who in some cases have been expelled from relevant organizations, once their destabilizing purpose for the country or region has been discovered.
Read the full interview below:
The Geopost: How do you assess the statement of Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin about the Recak massacre?
Gashi: In fact, a statement in the spirit of Serbian ultranationalist statements that deny everything that is Albanian, which is not that we are not used to hearing such statements, but that it is the culmination of denying a massacre that is world-renowned and is well argued and come out without shame and say that it is a fabrication of Albanians but in cooperation with the international community to justify the NATO bombing, this is if we can call it a kind of political madness of a senior official, which also expresses the political madness of a criminal state which is failing to free itself from the ultranationalist, chauvinist and criminal spirit of the Milosevic era.
The Geopost: How do you assess the comments of the international community regarding this statement?
Gashi: The interventions were expected, for example the intervention of the State Department that the Recak massacre is well-argued and also the EU intervention that the atrocities that took place in Recak are known, in my opinion they are appropriate response, which should probably be repeated more often because the Serbs, even after this statement given by these two important centers of world politics, which were themselves involved during the war in Kosovo, have themselves identified and declared the Recak a massacre, I’m talking about Ambassador William Walker. The reaction should have been more insistent because Vulin again responded to the reactions that have come from both Washington and Brussels, saying that “they are terrified by the courage of the Serbs to say The truth”, which is again an extremely dangerous statement in the first place for the peaceful relations and coexistence in the region, is provocative for all families, victims of the massacres that took place in Kosovo during the years ’98 and ’99 by the Serbian authorities.
The Geopost: How do you assess the publication of a propaganda book for children in Serbia entitled “Kosharja, a new battle of Kosovo”. What do you think was the purpose of this publication?
Gashi: For us historians, these “stories” are not unknown, ordered and written by politics, by people close to Serbian politics, in the spirit of the daily policies of the Serbian state towards Kosovo. The book, which I have seen written on portals, is an action that has nothing to do with rationality, because it offers children such a blatant falsification of history over a battle where the forces of the Serbian Army were defeated for due to a strong resistance of the forces of the Kosovo Liberation Army, but also due to the air intervention by NATO forces and to try to create a legendary battle called even the New Battle of Kosovo or the Second Battle for Kosovo is an attempt to falsify the history of the last war, as well as many attempts which we are seeing have gone to very high instances trying to subvert the truth, which the whole world has known about Serbian crimes that they committed in Kosovo during the war and conditionally created “a new truth, that the Serbs have waged a holy war, a war to defend their homes”, in fact the Serbs have waged a war of scorched earth. Today, both journalism and world science know very well, especially that of Western Europe and the United States of America who have been protagonists in this war who know that the Serbs have waged a war of scorched earth, mass expulsion and massacre of Albanians, only because of their ethnicity claiming to empty Kosovo and colonize it with Serbs. So, we are dealing with a typical invasion, expansionist war which is attempted to appear in children’s books at a very young age as “a holy war”, “war for the land of the ancients”, etc. which is not that it passes without leaving a trace in the education of the new generations. So we have a tendency to create a distorted education about the invading and lost wars that Serbia had at the end of the last century in the former Yugoslavia starting from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Croatia. Now, in order to justify those losses, they must present as heroes those who conquered a country but did not succeed. So, it is a tendency, sometimes even strange how far the imagination of Serbian policymakers and academics goes, who are in the service of Serbian daily politics.
The Geopost: Recently a tendency of Serbia and Russia has been noticed through various factors presenting the false narrative about the Kosovo war. What is your opinion about this?
Gashi: In fact, the Serbian narrative is no different from the Russian one, it has even taken it as a model, it is an attempt to strengthen the Serbian narrative through the Russian one, knowing that Russia is a greater power and has an extension of its influence in a large area of the countries of the former Soviet Union. Even today, Russia has a lot of influence in that part of Europe and Central Asia and the effort is to spread a “truth”, a Serbian version about the war in Kosovo, a narrative that is being created by Serbian journalism and politics about the war in Kosovo to be distributed in that part of the world as well. This is not accidental; it is very intentional and can have consequences. Because, there is a large community of states in which Russia has influence. So, Serbia is working with all its mechanisms, to place in the international opinion a narrative of its own about the war in Kosovo, about Kosovo, about the truth of Kosovo, in order to cover the truth with this farce, whether for the past or even the present of Kosovo.
The Geopost: What steps do you think Kosovo institutions should take to counter this propaganda and this tendency?
Gashi: I think that Kosovo institutions, political institutions, should not interfere in the work of academic institutions, but should encourage academic institutions to deal with the affirmation and publication of the truth not only about the recent war, but also about the current events in which the state of Kosovo is going through. So, academic institutions have an obligation on the basis of numerous sources to write a genuine history, especially for the developments of the last century and the beginning of this century, where there are attempts by Serbia to distort it. In this case, the institutions should encourage the various academies and institutes, engage political scientists, historians, scientists to contribute to the enlightenment of an indisputable truth and their publications to be made for internationals, to be made in different languages, to prove that Serbia’s efforts to keep Kosovo are an occupier’s attempt to keep the land that has nothing to do with its national past, but that some elements have been created over the past that Serbs try to present them as identity institutions, as is the case with the Serbian Orthodox Church and other churches and monasteries throughout Kosovo, to which the state has given extraordinary treatment, they try to present them as their sacred land. There is a lot to do in this regard.
The Geopost: How do you comment on Russian influence through international organizations operating in Pristina. How harmful is this for Kosovo but also for the West?
Gashi: In these regional multilateral but also international organizations, the Russians have become part of them not to help maintain the functioning and stability of coexistence in the countries of the former Yugoslavia, but have become more involved to destabilize the efforts of the international community and this has been proven several times that Russian officials, dressed in the guise of the UN international mission in Kosovo, have done a dangerous job of spying for Russia’s political circles. And this was confirmed a few months ago when NATO was forced to expel some of the Russian Federation observers in Brussels in the NATO headquarters, because they were discovered to be carrying strategic and secret information of the Alliance. Even in the Council of Europe, Russian officials were the people who maximally pushed Dick Marty’s project forward, not to mention that they financed it by trying to tarnish the Kosovo Liberation Army War, which also influenced the creation of the Specialized Chambers, despite the fact that the report was denied and is not part of the indictments for the KLA leaders there, it was launched by the protagonists and members of the Council of Europe representing Russia and the states that support it. So, wherever we have seen them in multilateral international forums, we have seen attempts at destructiveness and undermining of important processes.