If Pristina renews its failed 2015 bid to join UNESCO, Serbia is prepared to fight diplomatically to prevent it, says Serbia’s ambassador to this UN agency.
Darko Tanaskovic told Pristina-based Serbian language daily Jedinstvo that the precondition for success is all-Serb unity – “that is, for all institutions of the state and society, and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), to come together and coordinate their activities, as was the case in the final phase of the campaign in 2015.”
“There have been announcements that the authorities in Pristina are considering renewing their request to allow ‘Kosovo’ to join UNESCO. Among others, this ambition has recently been voiced by Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj, at the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. That, of course, still does not mean that there will be a request,” Tanaskovic said.
According to him, some analysts in Pristina, “and also foreign advisers” think that submitting another request would be “extremely risky” – considering that some legal and institutional work, above all related to institutional protection of the Serb cultural and spiritual heritage that would make the request more credible, has not been done in Kosovo.
“And also, international circumstances that have changed to a degree, as well as the mood inside UNESCO itself, does not go in favor of putting such an inflammatory political motion on the organization’s agenda. If Pristina still decides to attempt submitting the request, of course Serbia is ready for a diplomatic fight to prevent such a legally, politically, culturally, and ethically unacceptable action,” the ambassador stressed.
As he explained, “considering the current procedure of determining the results of voting in UNESCO, which does not take into account the votes of those who abstained – and is in this case unfavorable for Serbia – the possibility exists that Kosovo could receive the necessary two-thirds of votes.”
“The possibility that it would not is equally realistic, and perhaps at this time more realistic. Such votes taken by the 195 member-states at the General Conference of UNESCO are always extremely uncertain, which was demonstrated during the previous one, when ‘Kosovo’ was only three votes short,” Tanaskovic stressed.
He said that there are hints that some countries could “change sides” compared to two years ago – “even some countries whose position on the issue of Kosovo, including its admission to international organization, has been immovably determined.”
“UNESCO is not the same as the Olympic Committee or the World Bank. At least so far, not quite everything could be achieved in this organization by using political pressure, blackmail, or simply by buying it,” the ambassador explained.
By possibly accepting Kosovo as a member of UNESCO, “a new situation would certainly be created regarding the formal status of the medieval Serbian holy places and the universally valuable cultural monuments, but that could not deny that they belong to the Serb cultural tradition.”
According to him, UNESCO’s documents “would treat our heritage along territorial lines, as cultural goods in Kosovo, in that sense only conditionally of Kosovo, and in no way as Albanian.”
“That would be a very unfavorable development with potentially serious consequences, and the Pristina authorities and institutions would certainly engage in systematic abuse of the changed administrative status of our cultural heritage in order to ‘Kosovize’ it, that is, in order to build it into a non-existent, synthetic ‘cultural identity of Kosovo’, along with exerting constant pressure on religious, clerical, and monastic communities,” Tanaskovic stressed.
He pointed out that an important segment of the nationalist project to create an Albanian state in Kosovo is to retroactively construct continuity of its cultural identity, which – just like its historical and political continuity – does not exist.
Asked what consequences Kosovo’s admission to UNESCO would have on Serbia and the Serb identity, Tanaskovic said that the Serb people, and their identity, survived more serious challenges in the past.
“Serbs remained Serbs in everything that matters even after five centuries of Ottoman, Muslim rule.
That’s something everyone wanting to erase the Serb name or abolish Serb existence in historical Serb lands should bear in mind,” Tanaskovic concluded.