The only politician who was the president, prime minister and speaker of parliament in the Republic of Croatia, Stjepan Mesic, spoke to Geopost about Russia’s influence in the Balkans after its invasion of Ukraine, about whether Serbia can really turn to the West and distance itself from Russia, but he also sent a couple of messages to the Kosovo authorities on how they should act in order for Kosovo to receive even more recognition.
Mesic told Geopost that a dialogue should be held with Russia, negotiations should be reached, not with weapons, but with arguments, as he said.
Mesic also assessed that Ukraine received enough weapons in the West and that it can offer very good resistance in the war with Russia, but he is of the opinion that no dispute can be resolved today with weapons.
You can read the whole interview below:
The Geopost: How do you see Russian influence in the Balkans after World War II until today?
Stjepan Mesic: Well, that influence was not too great. The Russians have always had aspirations to reach the warm sea. Tsarist Russia still has such views of the warm sea, but Russia itself, that is, the Soviet Union, did not have that much influence. The Soviet Union did not attack Yugoslavia, the influence was not so great, then there was a recovery, where first there was the Tito-Stalin conflict, and then there was a calming situation and at that time Yugoslavia fell apart but the Soviet Union also fell apart. Russia has recovered and today it is a great power again. America understood the disappearance of the Soviet Union as a victory for the West, however, the Soviet Union collapsed due to internal misunderstandings.
Russia has strengthened and now we need to have a dialogue with, not with weapons, but with arguments. Russia could hardly accept Western missiles with nuclear warheads coming to the Russian border, so negotiations had to take place. Why did they insist that Ukraine must join both the UN and the NATO pact, when that is objectively impossible, because Russia will never accept NATO?
The Geopost: How does Croatia see Russian aggression in Ukraine?
Stjepan Mesic: Everyone accuses aggression, because it should not have happened. Ukraine is defending itself, it had a good portion of its army, however, it got so many weapons in the West that Ukraine can defend itself today, but nothing can be solved with weapons. Those issues that were unresolved, they still remain, so we need to sit down at the table again, just as every war ended in peace, so will this one.
The Geopost: Can the crisis in Ukraine affect the existing problems in the Balkans, i.e. in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska? How do you see that?
Stjepan Mesic: That crisis cannot, in essence, cause a conflict in the former Yugoslavia, but there are those hotheads in Serbia and the Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina who think they can outwit the world again. When one hundred thousand citizens died in the war to break up BiH, BiH did not remain divided, it became united, just as the huge casualties that Kosovo and Croatia had were victims of war, but Kosovo remained within its borders and Croatia remained within its borders. Those who speak “Serbian World” are again calling for a change of borders, but Aleksandar Vucic cannot do anything there, and neither can Milorad Dodik in BiH, but they can create obstacles, misunderstandings. They are a disruptive factor and Europe and America must understand that. It is not enough to say “we forbid Dodik to go to America”, “we will forbid Vucic to go to America”, they would not even go to America. So what does that mean to them? They should be prosecuted because they robbed their citizens, then it would be effective.
The Geopost: Are you optimistic that Serbia can finally turn its back on Putin and Russia, and turn to the West, or will Russia always use Serbia as a destabilizing factor in the Balkans?
Stjepan Mesic: While this government is in Serbia, they will try to sit on two chairs, one chair that will be turned towards Putin, and the other towards Europe and America. Which will prevail, in the end, it doesn’t matter that much, because Serbia was not the deciding factor in the European policy.
The Geopost: Do you have a message for Kosovo?
Stjepan Mesic: A delegation should be sent to visit the countries of South America, Asia, Africa, but it costs a lot, but what Kosovo can sustain financially is for a serious delegation to visit the missions of all countries in the United Nations with letters addressed to their heads of state and government. So, visit the representatives of each country, both the smallest and the largest, and explain to them why Kosovo should be recognized. To make a campaign with serious proposals that they will understand, because going to one country just like that, will not be useful. Each UN representative will hand over the letter to his country’s government and head of state.