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Albanian Slide: The Roots to NATO’s Pending Lost Balkan Enterprise

Since the end of the 1990s, Albanians in North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia have submitted to a regime of political and economic austerity in return for access to the European Union. The heavy costs, from economic decline, deadly pollution, and political corruption have translated into years of frustrations. These frustrations have exposed a political failure that extends from the region to the United States and Brussels. The resulting political turmoil will soon turn violent as the global economic downturn puts strains on Albanians sliding further away from their untrustworthy EU/U.S. allies. These afflicted relations may also highlight enduring tensions within the larger NATO alliance as American unilateralism continues to strain the divergent interests of key European partners.

Albanian Slide The Roots to NATO s Pending Lost Balkan
Albanians wave flags from their cars on November 8, 2010 in Tirana to hail the EU decision to extend visa-free travel rights to them. GENT SHKULLAKU / AFP / Getty Images
 

Following the objections they face, the presidential initiative of Thaçi and Vučić for land swap needs incidents on the ground, new tensions and destabilization of the situation, to proceed. We hold them responsible for the violence that may occur.

Albin Kurti, February 7, 2019

 

 

Introduction

Things were looking good for a while. At least that is what both Albanians living in the Balkans and abroad were telling themselves. With laudatory reports from indigenous politicians and a growing social media infrastructure, it was hard not to share in the optimism. As they awaited integration into the European Union (EU), all the distinct Albanian constituencies (inhabiting North Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Preshevë, Medvegjë, and Bujanoc in Serbia, Montenegro, and the various adopted homelands overseas), exclaimed a pride and giddy self-assurance. The popular media in particular, be it Twitter or Albanian-language journals, offered plenty of evidence that the once feisty rhetoric of determined independence and nationalism had turned into a calming monotone of contentedness.

Of critical value was the apparent presence of Albanians –self-acknowledged or not– in the larger world. Albanians like Rita Ora, Bebe Rexha, and Dua Lipa top the music charts. Albanian sports stars win gold medals in Judo and score spectacular goals for the best football squads in the world. The best chef in the world, the most beautiful model, the hottest club scene, undiscovered coastlines, and membership in NATO, all constituted acknowledgements of Albanians’ place in the world. For a people long ignored by the critical institutions of power, even derogatory statements about just how evil the Albanian mafia, is constituted publicity that reassured Albanians. Until recently, Albanians throughout the world felt they had gained access (at the expense, some old Marxist rebels lamented, of basic principles), to the Western table.

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