Serbia got EU candidacy and we got a footnote. Like everybody else, I was pissed off. I felt short-changed and I felt like this footnote arrangement was figured out a long time ago away from the public's eyes. I agree with Kreshnik Hoxha and Flaka Surroi in that a big part of the problem with this new agreement is that our assembly never had a chance to talk about this idea of giving Kosovo a footnote and dropping the word “Republic” in regional forums. A country's name is something that should involve as wide a consensus as possible. “Republic” is a word heavy with meaning for Kosovars. Most of us have memories or have heard stories of when saying Kosova Republike could get you jailed, or worse.
Unfortunately, what's done is done. Our problems with Serbia aren't over. They still have an institutional presence in the north and they have yet to really show any good will in improving their relations with Kosovo. The Borko and Edita talks don't count. This is hardly a new chapter in Kosovo-Serbia relations, not while Serbian public servants are being arrested in Kosovo for pressuring local Serbs to not cooperate with Kosovo's institutions.
I'm not exactly sure how being allowed to represent ourselves in regional initiatives and organizations is a victory, compared to EU candidacy. We were happy with our little carrot and didn't even think of asking for anything more. Why didn't we ask for anything more? Why didn't assembly demand to know more? The biggest problem in our political discourse is that we are timid abroad and authoritarian at home. We meekly accept our little footnote in Brussels and refuse to allow assembly and the public to discuss and decide what our negotiating priorities should be.
We have serious problems with discourse and debate. Sirs such as the elevated Ilir Mirena, Bekim Haxhiu and many others are shining examples the worst form of political discourse in this country. Calling people “political blondes”, “anti-American”, “exhaust pipes”, “cockroaches” and “traitors” is the highest coefficient they can muster of reasoned debate, and it does a good job of distracting people from real problems. They raise their voice when they don't like the direction of the conversation, and demand “facts and arguments” while spewing their own ill-informed ideas and half baked notions. They are an incredibly exhausting group of men and women, who sell the entire country down the river while fighting their petty little battles in the capital.
We are not a country that has the luxury of feeding the egos of these kinds of people. However, they are a reflection of what we tolerate and even encourage on a daily basis. “The word of a man.” Dominating, interrupting, refusing to listen, name-calling, raising one's voice when the other side disagrees, or simply ignoring them. This is the behavior of our elected officials who prevent actual conversations from happening. In doing so they prevent constructive solutions to the problems we all face. It's been a while since I've heard about a cross-party initiative that has been a great collaborative success. All I've heard recently has been some nonsense about Albin Kurti eating qebapa with some Serbs in 2004. We are OK with bullies. We let them lead parties and ministries and hold monopolies over solutions and public debates. It's no wonder that a footnote is the most we can collectively muster.
I leave you with my top five tips for mastering Kosovar political rhetoric:
1. Don't let anybody else speak. If you can drown out the noise of other people talking, you don't have to listen to the words they are saying.
2. Call your opponent a traitor of the people, and if they still disagree say that they are Serbian State Security agents.
3. Go personal, maybe with an attack an on your colleague's family and/or level of education.
4. If you happen to be dealing with a woman, just call her an idiot, maybe throw in a sexual innuendo or two.
5. Repeat this in front of the mirror everyday (my favorite quote from the fictional General Melchett): “If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through.”
The article was originally written in English.
Illustration (thumbnail): huskerfang
Illustration: Steven Kay
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