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Politics

The need for a moderate Vetevendosje

by Teresa Reiter

Recently a friend gave me the Vetevendosje button he usually wears on his jacket as a memento. It‘s rusty around the edges and looks like it’s been through hard times. He was wearing it when he got arrested for blocking streets and throwing tomatoes at Edita Tahiri, Kosovo’s lead negotiator in talks with Serbia. It was on him when he protested in the rain against the government. Now it’s in my wallet. I would never wear it since I don’t support Vetevendosje.

I don‘t want Vetevendosje to be in power. I wish there was a moderate version of it whose supporters don’t throw vegetables or stones, turn over trucks, call people brainwashed if they don‘t agree with them, want a referendum to unite with Albania and wave Albanian flags instead of Kosovar ones. I wish there was a party with a leader of the intelligence and politeness of Albin Kurti and with the decent behavior of Swiss democrats. It would be good to have a party with the passion of Vetevendosje that saves its energy for nonviolent actions so that its members don‘t get arrested every three days.

What Kosovo needs is a government that doesn‘t steal, doesn‘t lie (at least not too much), and that tries to keep emotions on a low level when it comes to negotiations with Serbia. It needs a government that cares about its citizens. It needs a government that really supports freedom and respects the dignity of all Kosovars.

Foreign media love to write about Vetevendosje as the big bad nationalists. It is true, it does have nationalist ideas, but it’s bullshit to just call them nationalists. Vetevendosje is a more than legitimate force in Kosovo. Vetevendosje reflects the disgust of more than one generation toward the corruption and political interference in every part of public life, the fawning upon insanely well-paid internationals and the silencing of the people of Kosovo.

Vetevendosje’s position toward the importation of Serbian goods is in many ways reasonable. It‘s bizarre that Kosovo is dependent on trade with a country that doesn‘t recognize it. If you think about it in a hard-headed way, it‘s ridiculous that Kosovo imports most of its goods from Serbia without being allowed to export its stuff with a ”Republic of Kosovo“ stamp on it. Even though I support Vetevendosje’s protests at the Merdare and Dheu i Bardhe border points in January, I don’t agree with the means of protesting in every case.

The European Union and the U.S. chose the side of a broken government. They support a range of corrupt and hypocritical people who destroy the young nation of Kosovo step by step. They pay millions of euro to organizations that fail in their mission to help Kosovo. True, this has aspects of neoimperialism, but people tend to underestimate the importance of the international presence in Kosovo.

Of course the international community can‘t support a movement like Vetevendosje in Kosovo . But it‘s a misconception on the part of Vetevendosje supporters that they don‘t need the international community at all. Kosovo exists because of the good will of the U.S. and the EU and the end of their influence in Kosovo can not even be anticipated. So if Vetevendosje could find a way to suit up (as terrible as this sounds) and stand for a clear policy without that whole rebel touch and megalomaniac street blocking, it could become a strong and reasonable partner for the international community. They could do much more for their county than they can do now in opposition to the international supervision and influence. Neoimperialism aside, in the end the EU and the U.S. would prefer to work with people who don‘t steal money from their country to build themselves castles. The call for an acceptable alternative to the current government is open. No matter how deeply stuck the political situation is in Kosovo, there is hope for change.

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