Kosovo to Raise Albanian Unification Issue After RS Referendum

SOURCESputnik
Photo: Nikola Dimitrijevic / Tanjug

BELGRADE – The international community, in an attempt to put pressure on Serbia and Republika Srpska after a recent referendum, is behind Kosovan calls for a referendum on unification with Albania, the former head of Serbia’s Military-Security Agency (VBA) Momir Stojanovic told Sputnik Serbia.

On Thursday a representative of Kosovo’s ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), Nait Hasani, declared that the Kosovo Assembly ought to pass a law to organize a referendum on the question of uniting with Albania.

Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, should “use the constitutional right to pass a law and organize the referendum,” said Nait Hasani, B92 reported. This suggestion is an attempt to put pressure on Serbia, following a recent referendum in Republika Srpska, the former head of Serbia’s Military-Security Agency (VBA) Momir Stojanovic told Sputnik Serbia.

In the referendum held on September 25, 99.81 percent of voters in Republika Srpska supported an initiative to make January 9 a state holiday, in spite of a ruling by the Bosnia and Herzegovnia Constitutional Court, and international pressure. Stojanovic said that Kosovan Albanian politicians are raising the issue of Kosovo’s unification with Albania because of international pressure which aims to weaken the position of Serbia and Republika Srpska.

“This announcement that Kosovo will hold a referendum on unification with Albania means that somebody winked at Albanians in Kosovo and told them to raise this issue, because of the recently held referendum in Republika Srpska. It’s just one of the issues used to exert additional pressure on Serbia, and Republika Srpska,” Stojanovic told Sputnik.

“This is not an invention of the Kosovan Albanians – this is an invention of those who are playing with the peace and stability of the Balkans. Above all, the US and some EU countries which make the key decisions about the moves many Balkan countries make.” “This announcement functions as a threat and pressure on Serbia and Republika Srpska because of the recent referendum,” Stojanovic said.

However, president of Serbia’s Parliamentary Committee for Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun told Sputnik that the suggestion from Kosovo of uniting with Albania is an empty threat.

“This is nothing new in the Greater Albania plans of Kosovan Albanians and their collaborators in Albania. However, the golden period of attempts to unite Kosovo and Albania disappeared when Sali Ram Berisha left power. The normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina has changed the situation significantly in favor of Belgrade,” Drecun said. “Serbia would never accept anything like that.

On the other hand, there is the question of whether Albania, as a NATO member, would forcibly change national boundaries and take territory belonging to another country, regardless of the fact that Tirana has accepted Kosovo as a country,” Drecun said. “I think that would be a big political risk for Albania which would bring a lot of harm and would not bring any benefits in practice. Don’t forget that the UN administration is still present in Kosovo, through UNMIK (United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo), EULEX (European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) and KFOR (the NATO Kosovo Force),” Drecun said.

Hasani’s suggestion comes just days after Republika Srpska, one of two political entities that constitute Bosnia and Herzegovina, held a referendum asking voters whether to respect a ruling by the Bosnia-Herzegovina Constitutional Court last year.

January 9 is celebrated as a public holiday in Republika Srpska, since it was founded on that day in 1992. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the other entity which constitutes Bosnia and Herzegovina, does not celebrate January 9. It celebrates March 1, 1992, the day when it declared independence from Yugoslavia, but this day is not celebrated in Republika Srpska. Last year the Bosnia-Herzegovina Constitutional Court declared the January 9 holiday unconstitutional after a legal challenge from the Bosniak member of the country’s tripartite rotating presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic.

In response, President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik organized a referendum on the issue, challenging the authority of the Constitutional Court to strike down the legislation. The decision to hold the referendum was criticized by the US, calling it “illegal.”

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the referendum was a reaction to the ineffectiveness of the Bosnian justice system, which struck down the state holiday, and condemned bias against Bosnian Serbs. “Violation of their legal rights is not met with an adequate response in the justice system, so they are forced to resort to the democratic means at their disposal. As a result, Republika Srpska has to resort to the democratic means at its disposal in order to ensure its legitimate interests,” the spokesman said, calling for further dialogue to resolve the dispute.

The Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of three members: one Bosniak and one Croat from the territory of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one Serb from Republika Srpska.

The day after the referendum Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosniak member of the tripartite Presidency, criticized Dodik’s decision to hold the referendum decision. “I think there will be a gradual reaction of the international community. We watched how Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and Milosevic defied (them), and what that looks like,” Izetbegovic said.

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