Kosovo, Ignatieff and Canada


Enver Hoxhaj (Photo: Flickr)

Two years ago Michael Ignatieff was written off by Canadian voters after Stephen Harper Conservatives branded him as a “just visiting” dilettante. Not long after that Ignatieff resigned Liberal Party leadership and left a world of politics to return to his old passion of academia where he successfully operated for several decades. Since then Canadian public didn’t heard much from Prof. Ignatieff, but his international stature brought him praise from Kosovo’s Foreign Affair Minister Enver Hoxhaj during recent visit to Ottawa and meeting with John Baird one of Ignatieff biggest political foes ever. 

Michael Ignatieff (Photo: Flickr)

Michael Ignatieff (Photo: Flickr)

Minister Hoxhaj who is on the world tour to present Kosovo as modern and organized state, which Kosovo in reality is not, told to the press that Ignatieff influenced his academic and political life through his writings. According to Hoxhaj most important lesson from Ignatieff is that different ethnic groups can live peacefully together, based on Canada’s experiences as model for building multi-ethnic institutions in society. 

Since Serbia – Kosovo war in 1999, which was ended by swift international forces action lead by British-US coalition and supported by Canada and other NATO members, Kosovars are struggling with Ingnatieff’s lesson. In 2008 supported by US and EU administrations Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, move which was later recognized by Canada and about 100 other nations. While Albanian majority tries to convince a world that their independent state is well organized and fully functioning, as Hoxhaj did it in Ottawa this week, actual situation is much different. 

Kosovo’s North is still controlled by Serbian majority through local government institutions paid, elected and controlled by Serbia’s authorities in Belgrade. Strong NATO forces are still present in many areas of Kosovo, especially in Serb minority enclaves, City of Kosovska Mitrovica and in areas surrounding Serbian Orthodox Church monasteries and institutions. Last year in several occasions Serbs on the North organized violent protests, block border crossings between Serbia and Kosovo, causing delays in food and supplies delivery to their compatriots in other areas of Kosovo. During this time several dozens of NATO soldiers were injured or held captive for days without essential supplies while two sides negotiated under EU supervision in effort to tackle open disputes. Judiciary and Prosecutorial systems are still almost 14 years after the war  controlled by international authorities set-up by European Union and other international partners. 

Protests in Kosovo

Protests in Kosovo

Hoxhaj’s main mission to Canada was to present let’s say new Kosovo which is devoted to modern political processes, with aspirations to become a member of many international institutions including NATO, European Union and if Serbia allows them ultimately United Nations.  

“Although Kosovo is not formally a NATO Aspirant country, Canada is supportive of the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkan states, including Kosovo, and Minister Baird underlined this support,” said Rick Roth, Baird’s spokesman earlier this week.

Based on everything said above we can conclude Minister Hoxaj used Ignatieff just to promote himself,  to gain some media attention in Canada. Kosovo doesn’t have institutions much less multi-ethnic institutions in society and based on what we can see in reality that will remain so for a while.  Kosovo still has a very long road ahead when it comes to resolution of security, transfer of power from the international community and Serbian minority rights and status. It would be better if Minister Hoxaj and his colleagues spent more time working in Pristina on real issues instead of going around telling good stories about former politicians and intellectuals. 

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