As all the conflicts in the Southeast Europe are, the Kosovo conflict is just a battle in the imperial conquest of the region and the Albanians are a mere cannon fodder, which, in the short-term, get to advance some of their own nationalist agenda under the umbrella of the larger imperialist effort. Since this is a matter of the Albanian people being pitted against the regional obstacle of the North Atlantic imperial community, the Serbs, only fools can think this is a Kosovo-confined conflict. The Serbian government's troubles are not confined to Kosovo Albanians, as a small, but concentrated Albanian minority inhabit the strip of Serbia's territory outside of Kosovo, around towns of Preševo and Bujanovac in South Morava valley. This particular population has been thrown into the conflict by their Western sponsors before, during the 2000-01 uprising, and it looks like its being leveraged against Serbia again these days. (To be clear, the difference between Albanians within Kosovo and those living and operating outside of it, in the rest of southern Serbia and in Macedonia, are ethnically and ideologically non-existent. They all propagate and fight for a Greater Albania, they all serve the same imperialist agenda, whether they know it or not, and they only have slightly different short-term objectives.)
These days, the government of Serbia, which many hoped would reverse the Kosovo policy of the previous, Boris Tadić-led government, in fact intensified that approach, breaking all the rules of political engagement with secessionists and foreign oppressors, as well as its own Constitution. Ivica Dačić, the Prime Minister, has so far shown way more eagerness to comply with the demands of the European Union for the recognition of Kosovo's independence. The man who, during the election campaign, expressed willingness to use military force to keep Kosovo within Serbia, now eats lunch with Hashim Thaci, the Kosovo Albanian leader and a terrorist who still plays a key role in ripping Kosovo away from Serbia and ridding it of its Serbian population.
I wrote about the monument commemorating a notorious World War II fascist in Novi Pazar, Aćif Efendi, and from this perspective, it appeared to have been just a prelude, a sort of a test for Serbia's government, which we see growing into a chain of similar provocations in the Preševo area. I might have not mentioned that Aćif Efendi, the fascist militia leader of the Novi Pazar Muslims, was an ethnic Albanian, although the Muslim militia he was leading was largely non-Albanian.
In Preševo, a monument was recently erected to honor the fallen members of the so-called Liberation Army of Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa (OVPBM), a KLA-organized insurgent militia whose attempt at transplantation of conflict from Kosovo to Preševo valley the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian police defeated in 2001.
In Veliki Trnovac near Bujanovac, the 2012 Albanian Flag Day - the major pan-Albanian national holiday - was commemorated with the grand opening of a museum honoring one of the killed commanders of the terrorist OVPBM, Ridvan Qazimi. On the same day, November 28, the town of Bujanovac woke up to a model of a yellow-colored house placed symbolically at the central square. Albanian organizers of the festivities, many of whom were former members of OVPBM, claimed it was a house in the Albanian city of Vlore, where the independence of Albania was declared in 1912, but to local Serbs it represented the house in northern Albania where, according to the Dick Marty report to the European Parliament, kidnapped Serbs were butchered for organs. Be it as it may, the Serbian sensibilities were seriously offended, but their Albanian neighbors didn't seem to care.
The local glorification of an Albanian fascist in Novi Pazar was a cause for Dačić and, mainly, Aleksandar Vučić, his first deputy, to go berserk, threaten political reprisals and forget about it after several days. The plaque to an Albanian fascist still stands in Serbia. Serbia does penalize Serbian ultra-nationalist, anti-fascist and anti-EU youth, but doesn't do anything about the glorification of fascism by the leaders of a Muslim minority. It's almost blasphemous to fall short of condemning Serbia's own collaborators with Hitler, who never donned Nazi uniforms and never contributed a unit to Hitler's war efforts, but the man who under fascist insignia killed Serbs in Serbia gets a monument. Staying the course towards the EU mandates such passive behavior of Serbia's government towards attack on its legitimacy, I guess.
The three anti-Serbian manifestations in the South Morava valley have been a subject of scorn from Dačić on and off, but no definite legal action has been taken. Dačić, ever a dilettante, demanded that the Albanians who erected the Preševo monument remove it, or else. Of course, after the Aćif Efendi plaque stayed, why would the Preševo Albanians be afraid of the Serbian government and Dačić? Dačić's threats haven't materialized, of course. I'm not even saying that he should have sent police to the tear down the monument, just that he should have followed legal procedure, order the appropriate government department to investigate the matter and proceed according to law. If it's legal to erect a monument to an enemy of the State, so be it. If a glorification to an ethnic Albanian terrorist doesn't incite ethnic hatred, then let it stand. But ever a dilettante and ever a populist, he disregarded the law, took the issue out of the state institutions and conveniently did nothing with it, postponing the resolution until an opportunity to earn brownie points arises. The threats and charges swirled only to create an impression that the man who's quitting on Kosovo and dining with Thaci is actually a hard-line nationalist, even an authoritarian, with whom one doesn't mess. The parliamentary debate on the Preševo monument issue produced no results. Dačić is reviving the issue these days, primarily as a distraction in the run-up to the next round of what he called "negotiations" with Thaci, but also as a good populist way to draw attention to himself in response to President Nikolić's bargaining platform for Kosovo.
The transplantation of conflict doesn't, however, get hindered with Dačić's game of interchangeable attempts at winning brownie points from the Serbian people and from Brussels. The threat of an Albanian violent expansion beyond Kosovo is real and imminent, as the Preševo valley is included in the Greater Albania designs since 1878, and as Serbian official Milovan Drecun warned on Thursday of an accumulating presence of armed militia on the Macedonian side of the border* and on the Kosovo side of the administrative line. In 2000 and 2001, when it quelled the insurgency spilling over from Kosovo, Serbia had much more independence in acting to protect its sovereignty than in 2012. In other words, there is not one reason to believe Serbia will buy the safety of the remnants of its territory by quitting on Kosovo and the Preševo valley is the most serious contender for the next flashpoint of anti-Serbian violence.
*A third of Macedonia's population are ethnic Albanians, and the power has been shared on an equal basis between the Slav-speaking majority and the Albanian-speaking minority after the Albanian insurgence in that country in 2001.