BERLIN/PRISTINA - The EU is discussing redrawing borders in Southeast Europe. The Kosovo leadership could thus cede control over its Serbian-speaking North to Belgrade, in exchange for the Albanian-speaking Preevo valley of Southern Serbia. Obviously backed by France, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, is promoting this exchange, against Germany's rejection. The plan, in fact, is redrawing borders in accordance with the ethnic criteria pursued by the German government in Southeast Europe, in particular during in the 1990s and early 2000s. After having been stationed in Kosovo for nearly 20 years, the Bundeswehr is preparing a major withdrawal. Its focus will now be on training and arming Kosovo's armed forces, which have begun cooperating with NATO, while Kosovo's population continues to languish in poverty, after nearly two decades of western occupation. It is the second poorest region in Europe. Only military cooperation with NATO is flourishing.
The EU is currently discussing redrawing borders in Southeast Europe. The debate has been pushed by Kosovo's president Hashim Thaçi, a former commander of the KLA militia, which had served as NATO's de facto ground forces during the Kosovo war, in the spring of 1999, and - together with the western powers - imposed that Southern-Serbian province's secession. Thaçi has been accused of criminal Mafia activities for many years. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) In July, Kosovo's president proposed to "adjust borders" between Serbia and Kosovo, which had seceded from Serbia in violation of international law: Kosovo's leadership could cede its control over the Serbian-speaking north of the seceded province to Belgrade, in exchange for the mainly Albanian-speaking Preevo valley in southern Serbia. The idea is not exactly popular within the population. Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić, however, had agreed to enter talks. Initial negotiations have already taken place under EU mediation - until now, without success.
German Ethnic Policy
This offensive is quite embarrassing for Berlin for several reasons. On the one hand, the demand to create ethnically-defined nations corresponds to Germany's basic policy line for Southeast Europe, particularly during the 1990s. At the time, the German government had led the charge to break Yugoslavia up into ethnic republics, by precipitating its recognition of Slovenia and Croatia  and with Kosovo's secession. Thaçi's latest offensive is also aimed at this type of land reallocation and is very risky. "To play with borders and divisions, today, in the Balkans is very dangerous, just like it was in the early 1990s," noted Carl Bildt, the former Swedish Prime Minister, who had been active in various functions in Southeast Europe during the second half of the 1990s and early 2000s. "If Preevo can beome part of Kosovo, why not also Tetovo part of Macedonia? If Mitrovica can become part of Serbia why not Banja Luka part of Bosnia?" Further land reallocation on the basis of German ethnic principles could plunge large parts of Southeast Europe into new conflicts - at a time when Berlin thinks it has taken control over Europe, and is now turning toward activities of global policy.
Quarrel in the EU
This is why the German government is resolutely rejecting Thaçi's offensive, thereby directly contradicting the policy of previous German governments - also in light of Crimea. If borders would be redrawn along ethnic lines in Southeast Europe, it would be difficult to explain why this should not be applicable to Crimea, whose accession to the Russian Federation Germany and the other western powers refuse to recognize. At the same time, Berlin is confronted with a chaotic situation within the EU. The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, promotes the redrawing of borders; France could warm up to the idea and the Trump administration is in support. This question will not even be considered by five countries - Spain, Rumania, Greece and Cyprus - because, in spite of massive German pressure, they have never recognized Kosovo's secession in violation of international law. They are still considering this region as Serbia's southern province, which it, in fact, is. Bernard Kouchner, France's former foreign minister and UN special envoy to Kosovo (1999 - 2001), seeks to play a mediating role. According to Kouchner, there is no danger that ethnically defined states could emerge. Even if borders are redrawn, one could find an Albanian in Serbia and a Serb in Kosovo. Kouchner is simply denying that redrawing borders could serve as a precedent for ethno-separatists in other areas of Southeast Europe.
Reality of Life in Kosovo
Nearly 20 years after NATO's war on Yugoslavia and the subsequent occupation of its province, and after ten years of its secession from Serbia - in violation of international law, with Germany leading the charge - the debate about redrawing borders completely ignores the current social conditions in Kosovo. In 2016, the official unemployment rate was estimated at 34.8 percent (youth unemployment hovering around 60 percent). Based on the 2016 per capita GDP, Kosovo was the second poorest country in Europe. The majority of Kosovo's population has a monthly income of less than 500 euros, 30 percent live below the official poverty line. The Kosovo government's budget is insufficient to provide adequate healthcare and can only cover 60 percent of the medicines considered indispensable. Most families cannot pay for treatment of a serious illness, such as cancer. Real improvement is nowhere in sight. The infrastructure for transport, energy supply, and ties to the outside world are miserable. Around ten percent of Kosovo's GDP is derived from donor nations, another 15 percent from Diaspora money transfers home. Only those individuals have been successful, who are accused - also by the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) - of heading organized crime and being responsible for the most serious war crimes during the 1999 war. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.
This year, after having been stationed in Kosovo since 1999, the Bundeswehr has initiated its withdrawal. The field hospital at the Prizren camp was already shut down at the beginning of the year. By the end of the year, German troops intend to have completely withdrawn from Prizren and transferred total control of the camp to the Kosovo government. Thereafter, German soldiers should only be active at KFOR headquarters in Pristina. According to the Bundeswehr, one focus of its activities will be "to promote the development of the KSF (Kosovo Security Forces, editor's note) in harmony with NATO." The Bundeswehr has already provided Kosovo troops with material and vehicles - most recently 44 Wolf vehicles. The KSF, on the other hand, has begun participation in NATO combat exercises. After nearly 20 years of occupation, including by the Bundeswehr, the population languishes without a perspective of development. In Kosovo, there is but one thing that flourishes - military cooperation.
 See also Ein schwarzes Loch in Südosteuropa.
 Michael Martens: Kreative Lösungen auf dem Balkan. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.08.2018. Operation Pustekuchen. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.09.2018.
 See also Salonfähige Parolen.
 See also "Thank You Germany!"
 Michael Martens: Kreative Lösungen auf dem Balkan. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 27.08.2018.
 Michael Martens: Brandgefahr für den Balkan. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 29.08.2018.
 See also Berlins Kampfansage.
 Michael Stabenow: Keine Grenzkorrekturen. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 02.10.2018.
 10 Facts About the Poverty Rate in Kosovo. borgenproject.org 25.08.2017.
 See also Die Mafia als Staat and The Mafiosi State (II).
 Wölfe für das Kosovo - Übergangszeremonie in Pristina. einsatz.bundeswehr.de 28.09.2018.