Northern Kosovo is no man’s land. No state exists there. Republic of Kosovo has not established institutions required for the rule of law. Paradoxically, Republic of Serbia has no control over Northern Kosovo either, although it significantly supports it financially. But if this territory is not controlled by either Serbia or Kosovo, who then has the control over its economy and criminal activities, millions of Euros of the Republic of Serbia investments, trade of excise goods (particularly gasoline), freight and forwarding services for trucks that enter Kosovo? Furthermore, over the last ten years, who has been directing collaborations between the Serbian and Albanian mafias? Who controls about 150 men, who are armed to the teeth and ready to shoot at any moment? Who controls every inch of Northern Kosovo, from the border – forgive me, administrative crossings at Jarinje and Brnjak, to the famous bridge in Kosovska Mitrovica? Who is the person powerful enough to decide when and if Borislav Stefanovic (and Goran Bogdanovic) will be welcomed in Northern Kosovo, or who can afford himself to openly (physically) threaten the head of the Serbian negotiating team with Pristina? And finally, who is the man who controls the log revolution and burns border crossings in Northern Kosovo?
According to both the Serbian and Kosovo media, the mysterious man is a person from Northern Kosovo, but I can not name him (will refer to this person as He), because He could sue us, and, in the reformed judiciary, likely win.
These days the media have been claiming that this person is a new Arkan, that he is more powerful than the state (Serbia as well as Kosovo). This man is completely unknown to the greater public. Similarly to the legendary Saric, this hero has been, over the last several years, “skillfully concealing” from the media, which allowed him to develop a successful several-million-Euros-per-month business.
Everything that is known about this mysterious person is speculative. Following the war in Bosnia (where he had a notable role as a patriot and a volunteer recruit in one of the infamous paramilitary units), he began his business career at the end of the 90’s, only to emerge, at the beginning of 2004 as an informal leader of Northern Kosovo Serbs, backed by an outpost department of one of Serbia’s security agencies. Since the arrival of NATO forces to Kosovo, He has been promoted by Oliver Ivanovic, as He has been his faithful „guardian of the Bridge“.
It is particularly interesting that the name of this man has continuously been associated with a number of serious crimes in our former colony (including the killing of a police officer), but the Kosovo judiciary has not been able to build a case against him. On several occasions, his name could have been found on warrants issued by the Kosovo police, that would often, on the account of his close business ties with politicians and mafia from Kosovo, be dismissed because of procedural reasons (lack of evidence).
Interesting is also the intimate relationship between this man and Serbian political parties that have been in power since the year 2000. His close ties to the Democratic Party of Serbia (DPS) have been replaced with those to the Democratic Party (DP), only for him, in the last couple of days, to be reembraced by the safe hands of his DPS friends since DP can not be trusted anymore – more on this reversal later in the text. Certainly, the hero of this story would most passionately advocate the Progressive Party, but he will vote for them only once they are in power. Until a year ago, Goran Bogdanovic and Him closely cooperated (moreover, He gladly and frequently financed certain political activities of DP on Kosovo), because such a man is very useful to Serbia. After all, who is the only one able to defend Northern Kosovo from Albanians? Well, of course, Him and His pals with shaven heads.
Over the last ten years He has built a small empire. No fiscal police, no regular police, and most importantly no customs, just smuggling (of everything) and cash money. Informed individuals from Northern Kosovo and Pristina claim that His political career peaked this summer when, under the guidance of certain groups in Belgrade, Him and his boys set on fire the Northern Kosovo border crossings – in this way opening the door to „high level politics”. Such a decision, made at the expense of the so-called (Serbian) state policy on Kosovo, has caused consternation in the cabinet of the Serbian president Tadic, making him realize that that the monster has gotten out of control. Setting border crossings on fire was the first of three self-inflicting mistakes made by Kosovo Serbs, above all on the detriment of the whole of Serbia. What happened next? An unidentified person with a sniper shot a member of the Kosovo’s special police forces, Enver Zumberi, who later died. The final mistake was an attempted attack of the “unarmed people” on KFOR. The truth was described on several instances by Vuk Drašković. During this controversial incident, it is indeed that the victims were unarmed Serbian civilians, who had been brought there a few minutes after someone threw a home-made explosive device on nine members of KFOR.
However, even though a mighty individual, He is just one of several field workers responsible for Northern Kosovo. It is incredible how Serbia is unable to exist without such individuals. It doesn’t matter if their name is Arkan, Bagzi, Zvezdan or Legija. It is, though, important to focus ones attention on the important role played by Dr. Vojislav Kostunica and his team from Northern Kosovo (Marko Jaksic, Milan Ivanovic etc) during the last “happening of people”. Burning of the Northern Kosovo border crossings would not be possible without consulting legalists, because this also required knowledge obtained from the burning of Belgrade in 2007. More importantly, to DPS such a destabilization provides an ideal foundation for the attempt to actualize the Kosovo epic myth.
Even more interesting would be to determine if an accredited ambassador in Belgrade (code name: Are there any Serbs in the room?) likes to take time to visit guys with shaven heads over drinks in the famous cafe “Vozd” in Mitrovica. Of course, drinking coffee with friends is completely legitimate, while undermining national interests of the country where one is accredited is something completely different. And so on in circles.
And finally, a little on Europe. Europeans believe that Serbia is left with a final and a very simple choice: either Northern Kosovo or European integrations. The plan on the division of Kosovo (now it is called demarcation) was probably a negotiating option (and not a very intelligent one) until the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo. At that time Serbia did not want to take this option into consideration. Now this option no longer exists. The last opportunity for Serbia is to obtain a maximally stretched Ahtisari plan for the north. However, we are all now trapped. Tadic is engaged in a trench battle with the world which he can not win. At the same time, weak and politically untalented as he is, he doesn’t dare to come out of the fantasy we live in today. But he is running out of time. As I am writing this, KFOR’s last ultimatum to Kosovo Serbs to come down from their logs is coming to an end. On top of that, elections are approaching – a time of collective madness, lies, deceit and insane promises. And so there you have it – a layer of Kosovo and then a layer of Europe. The final result will be neither Kosovo nor Europe, only the return to the nineties.
This article is translated by a listener from Belgrade.