History does not repeat itself, although it often seems to us that it does. We will make fewer mistakes if we look at some important and long-lasting stories as a drama or a movie, in which the characters from the beginning can also appear in the final scenes, but that does not mean that we will see something we have already seen. One by one, the actors from the introductory acts appear on the stage of our Kosovo drama again, they are familiar to us, they even say the same lines. William Walker is here again, a man whose experience from the dark operations in Central America was the main recommendation to get the job as the head of the OSCE Verification Mission in Kosovo back in 1998, that short play-within-a-play, which was just an introduction to the bombing of Serbia. Although 20 years older, Walker works equally hard for the Kosovo Albanians, he is angry that there are no accused Serbs in the court for crimes in Kosovo, but only Albanians, he would like to see even President Vučić in the courtroom!?
Speaking frankly, more honest than in the “first act”, when he was supposed to look like an independent OSCE observer, now his consulting foundation charges Hashim Thaci seven thousand dollars a month to help him before the court in The Hague, where he is being prosecuted for post-war crimes in Kosovo. The amount is much higher than the one that was announced publicly, and it seems that the arrangement with Thaci has not been recent, but has not been terminated since 1998.
Another hero from the beginning demands the same as Walker, that not only Albanians, but also Serbs be on trial in The Hague. Daniel Serwer recently spoke about it before the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs, proposing to the future administration of Joe Biden to continue “hard”, as he put it, with Vučić and Serbia. In the same scene, with similar lines, he was joined by Janusz Bugajski, another veteran in building Kosovo’s independence, whose views have not changed over a period of several decades. What they all have in common is that they see the arrival of the Biden administration as a chance for the return of the “good old” American black-and-white policy in the Balkans, one that is good only for Kosovo Albanians, and bad only for Serbia. Pressures on Belgrade, relativization of crimes against Kosovo Serbs, hatred towards Serbia and all those in leading positions, rejection of everything that comes from the Serbian side as a proposal for compromise, were all, and still are, features of the destructive US policy advocated by these lobbyists from the beginning, and we can see it happening now, when the Kosovo issue is close to a compromise outcome. Thanks, first of all, to Serbia and Vučić, their persistence in changing the order that was established a long time ago on the mistakes of everyone who participated in its establishment. Serbia has learned a lesson from its past mistakes, and that is why it is now on the way to realizing its interests regarding Kosovo, which were thought to have failed forever.
That is why the arrogant attitude of domestic “experts” towards the actions of Walker, Serwer, Bugajski and others, as towards people whose word is without influence, just an echo of some old, dark times, is wrong. As we have seen, they still have access to the media, they speak in the US Congress, they will have good contacts in the upcoming democratic presidential administration, so their influence is not to be underestimated. We can repeat as much as we want that they are lobbyists, that they are working for Albanian money, that it is unfair, just as it was loudly said in the late 90s and later, but that complaint will not help us. The only lesson that can be useful to us is that small countries can also convince big players of the correctness of their policy, or more precisely, convince them why they should support our goals.
Instead of a new wave of complaints over what Walker, Engel, Serwer said, it would be more useful to immediately ask ourselves the question – why does Serbia not have its Walker, Bugajski, Serwer, Albright? Why did it allow itself to lose in Washington two or three decades ago to Kosovo Albanians, about whom they knew nothing until the 1980s? Why did we allow them to forget what they knew very well until then, that Serbia and America are hundred-year-old friends, brothers when it was the hardest in the world wars, allies and partners in peace? Are we really so morally clean that we loathe lobbying in Washington, legal and only effective way to influence American foreign policy, even if we lost the most valuable thing we have? Serbia needs to show that it has changed in this area as well. It must accept the rules of the game in American politics and invest in lobbying for its interests. Not having the money for this important job is not an excuse. No one can convince us that Kosovo Albanians and their economy can bear that cost, and Serbia cannot. However, this is not a cost but the only safe investment in politics and the interests we want to achieve.
If Serbia, with Vučić, has already made a huge step forward and approached the Kosovo issue pragmatically, and not by defending the myth, if it has convinced everyone in the world that we finally play responsibly, not playing tricks, that we finally have a plan and know what we want, then we should do the easier part of the job. To present this good political “product” in the best way to Washington, where the decision, to a great extent, will be reached. Serbia must finally get influential lobbyists in the American capital, and be proud of that, not ashamed of that. We will have the opportunity, in a month, when the White House gets a new boss.