THE GEOPOST: Mr. Joseph thank you for this interview for The Geopost.Let’s begin, you wrote article in Foreign Policy two days before, you wrote for Ukrainian war, Russianaggression on Ukraine and comparative with Balkans so would you comment this article for The Geopost.
Edward JOSEPH: Of course I couldn’t be with you here in beautiful Struga on lakeOhrid where this is devoted to dialogue.
The point of my article was that the US is making a mistake by all this blame on Prishtina, on prime minister Kurti who deserves some blame and does share in a blame and I write that in the article, but praising, not only letting Vucic escape from his responsibility, which is very high for this situation, and possibly have immediate crisis even higher now with the arrest of the three Kosovo special police but praising him and you ask about the war in Ukraine I am saying Putin believes he is winning in the Balkans not the West. So that I describe, and I explain in the article, and I give examples on why this is so, and about how the US and the EU are not addressing the Kosovo question strategically. So that is the point of my article.
THE GEOPOST: Thank you Mr. Joseph. You said that we have a problem in the North of Kosovo How do you see situation in the North and what Pristina can do to change mind to US policy now?
Edward JOSEPH: Look the situation has even escalated in this past 24 hours, with the arrest of these three Kosovo police. And I point out as others have done the Kumanovo agreement. This is the agreement you know between Belgrade and NATO, that end the bombing 20 years, Kumanovo agreement which creates this 5 kilometer ground safety zone. That’s on the other side of the border. That is into Serbia that means that the Serbian police should not even been within 5 kilometers. And that is a very strong consideration here.
And really this matter now is in the hands of the NATO first of all. Because this involves the NATO agreement with Serbia first of all. And so, NATO and KFOR have to give their professional judgment, and even if they don’t want to share this publicly, they have to inform United States, inform the European Union, other key European Union countries and establish these basic facts. That is number one. Number two is what Pristina needs to do and what Prime Minister Kurti and President Osmani need to do. I mean you use one word: Statesmanship. Statesmanship, this the word we use in English. It means to rise above the level of ordinary politician. It means to attain the level of a great leader, at a critical time. Because this a very serious situation. We don’t want any escalation; we have already seen violence, breakout in a terrible fashion on May 29th in the north, with these terrible attacks on KFOR and on Kosovo special police by Serbs.
These are not protesters; these are criminals, using Molotov cocktails and things. We have seen that many KFOR soldiers were injured. We don’t want anyone to be wounded, injured or killed, military or civilian. So, it’s really a moment for statesmanship for very close communication with United States and of course EU and NATO. And really looking for ways to avoid any further escalation but I do repeat, NATO must pronounce an answer about this.
THE GEOPOST: So you think that Kumanovo agreement is broken?
Edward JOSEPH: I don’t know. I am not on the ground. I don’t know but if you look at the terms of the Kumanovo agreement: creating a ground safety zone. Think about the term. I hope this will be translated well into Albanian. Ground safety zone. They were smart in NATO.
They were already thinking. We don’t want to have any misunderstandings. We don’t want to have incidents like this. You know this type of an incident when someone strains across the border or shooting, any kinds of things like this. You know we don’t want to have any of that type. They were smart when they made this: Ground safety zone. Now I am not in the position to make a judgement.
I am not with NATO but one time I was, I was deployed in Bosnia Hercegovina with NATO, I was with EUFOR, not KFOR but EUFOR in 1996 I was part of the NATO force. NATO’s is highly professional, it is on NATO, they must establish as well as they can, the facts here. And be mindful of the obligations under the Kumanovo Agreement. But if you create a 5-kilometer safety zone, how possible is it that Kosovo Police would go 5 kilometers into. I don’t even think even in Belgrade that they claim that, that it was even 5 kilometers, so it is really NATO must pronounce this and Kosovo officials Prime minister Kurti, President Osmani must stay in very good contact, and show really the statesmen like quality to get out of escalation.
Look, you know there is this ban on Serbian goods, there is the ban on certain license plates and things like this. I understand because this is very serious situation, and I again say what is so important is to be a statesman or in the case of president Osmani a stateswoman.
THE GEOPOST: Mr. Joseph, we see that the West invest lot in Vucic and Serbia. Serbia is not going to West unfortunately. Do you believe that Vucic can change he is playing two games west, east and Russia. Which is your comment?
Edward JOSEPH: Look I have been at the forefront of writing about of who president Vucic is. People were not really paying attention. I have been pointing out, this is autocrat. And I have been saying this. And that this is a mistake. I wrote article about open Balkans a year ago. Even right here just before Prespa forum last year I wrote about Open Balkans, how this is playing into this serbiannationalist vision, that president Vucic addresses, and I should point out here President Vucic attacked me personally just at the end of 2022, just this past December in very fierce emotional terms. Which shows off course that he is not just some cool..So I have been writing about this, that this is a mistake that the US is going overboard on this whole approach with, oh we are going to persuade him and convince him and it is more manipulation.
So, the US has to wake up, particularly after these attacks on KFOR soldiers, this is outrages. I wrote in the article Molotov cocktails, that requires preparation. If you take the time preparing them that means Belgrade has very likely to know, Serbian government to know this is going on, and number two it means you intend to do attacks. You don’t intend to come and protest peacefully. And then we come to the last point. Which is the, we have the irony, where Serbian people are protesting themselves saying they want democracy.
Kosovo was a separate issue, but they were speaking as Serbian citizens who love their country, that they want democracy in their country. And that they know and see their president for who he is, they see he is autocrat, they are saying themselves climate of violence, that is what they are talking about, this is after the mass shootings. And we see in North of Kosovo climate of violence. Kosovo has its own responsibility, never to create climate of violence.
And so, my message to Prime ministerKurti and president Osmani, because Kosovo is democratic state with pluralism, is to act and reflect those values. Never create a climate of violence exactly what the Serbian people are saying president Vucic is doing.
THE GEOPOST: Mr. Joseph, thank you very much for this interview.
Edward JOSEPH: You are welcome.