Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

NATO to Set Up its First Air Base in Western Balkans

The EU has also gone on the offensive.

Published

on

1,119 Views

NATO believes that the Western Balkans is a region of strategic importance. The summit that was held July 11-12 specifically expressed support for the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Balkan countries. Macedonia was officially invited to join the alliance.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

On the eve of the summit, Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller stressed that NATO supported the process of reform in Kosovo, including the creation of its own regular armed forces. That idea has strong support in Washington, although by establishing its own military, Kosovo would be in gross violation of the existing international agreements. UN Security Council Resolution 1244 states explicitly that no other military presence, with the exception of KFOR and the Serbian army, shall be permitted without the mandate of the UN Security Council.

The Florence Agreement (Article IV of the 1996 Dayton Peace Accords) affirms that regional stability should be maintained with the assistance of the OSCE, not NATO. The creation of a Kosovo military would mean that a regular force was being established within the territory of Serbia, which is a party to the Florence agreement.

NATO has already allowed Kosovo to set up a professional security force, which is to join the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program and then develop into a regular armed forces that is able to meet NATO standards. This idea is being floated at a time in which the concept of the creation of Greater Albania is gradually taking shape, which would include Kosovo, parts of Macedonia such as Tetovo, the Presevo Valley in Serbia, and parts of Montenegro such as Malesija.

The EU has also gone on the offensive. Croatia joined it in 2013. Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia are EU candidate states. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are signatories to Stabilization and Association Agreements with the bloc. In 2016, Bosnia and Herzegovina formally submitted an EU membership application.

Efforts to reduce the region’s energy “dependence” on Russia are underway, as an element of the policy of “squeezing Moscow out.” The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project is in the construction phase and will eventually stretch from the Caspian Sea to Albania and northward to other Western Balkan countries, as well as Italy.

The next step is the building of a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Krk, a Croatian island, thus making the countries of the region pay much more for American sea-transported energy than Russia’s natural gas that is supplied by pipeline. The Krk project is to include Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia, and Serbia.

The NATO-EU Statement on the Implementation of the Joint Declaration envisages close cooperation between the two groups, which will increase Western influence in the region. That’s what Russia opposes. It rejects the wisdom of an approach in which the region is viewed as a battlefield between the West and Russia (which is supposedly vying for influence), forcing the nations of the region to take sides. The truth is, they don’t have to. For instance, Serbia can derive significant benefits by promoting complementary relationships with the EU and the Russian-led EAEU.

The Atlantic Council’s report, titled “Balkans Forward: A New US Strategy for the Region,” which was released in late 2017, attracted a lot of attention. It calls on the West to double down on countering Russia’s influence in the region, including by means of a permanent American military presence in the Balkans that would “anchor the United States’ ability to influence developments.”

Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, which was built on Serbian soil without consulting that country’s own government, is not enough. The Heritage Foundation echoes this view, offering guidelines to spur US diplomatic, economic, and military efforts to drive Russia out while bringing the US in. The think tanks from the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the East-West Institute chimed in with their joint report, titled “Time for Action in the Western Balkans,” which was published in May.

The think tanks’ recommendations are followed by suggestions from governments. Here is the latest example. On Aug. 4, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that NATO plans to build its first air base in the Western Balkans near the municipality of Kucove in south-central Albania. Construction is to start this year. The new facility will be used for air supply, logistic support, air patrolling, and training. The base will also be used by the Albanian air forces. The US Army’s Bondsteel base in Kosovo is used by KFOR but it lacks an airstrip for planes.

On Aug. 2, Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci said in an interview with VOA’s Albanian Service, “Kosovo’s border with Serbia needs to be redefined, or corrected.” Whatever he meant, no mention was made of any need for Serbia’s consent or United Nations-approved procedures. Mr. Thaci feels free to make such statements because he senses the West’s support behind him.

Meanwhile, tensions in northern Kosovo are rising after the Aug. 4 deadline to establish Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo with limited autonomous powers was missed. The Kosovo provincial government has not kept its promises. Such a move is necessary in order meet the provisions of the EU-brokered 2013 Brussels Agreement, which is intended to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo.

The Kosovo Serbs say they would declare autonomy if Kosovo’s rulers’ fail to produce a draft statute of the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO). That agreement provides for the merger of the four Serb municipalities in the north (North Mitrovica, Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic), which are subject to Kosovo law. This urban district would have powers over economic development, education, healthcare, and town planning.

On Aug. 4, Kosovo PM Ramush Haradinaj warned Serbs in the northern section of the province that their potential “attempt to proclaim autonomy” would be met with a response, obviously meaning the use of force. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic vowed action to protect his compatriots residing in Kosovo. KFOR is in a state of combat readiness, because NATO has failed to prevent a conflict between Kosovo and Serbia.

KFOR entered Kosovo in 1999. The Albanian government of the Serbian province fully depends on the West. As recent events convincingly illustrate, after all these years, nothing has been done to solve the problems of the Serb minority or even to get closer to a solution. The ethnic divisions in Macedonia and Montenegro remain. Bosnia Herzegovina is still a divided country on the brink of armed conflict.

The Western Balkans has not become a second Hong Kong or Singapore, even after some of the regional countries joined the EU. Neither the ethnic nor the religious divisions were successfully addressed after several Balkan nations joined NATO. If there is any outside security threat, it comes from the North Atlantic Alliance, which has proven its readiness to use force to reach its goals in the region.

A NATO air force base in Albania will hardly make the life of ordinary people living in the Western Balkans better or more secure, but it will certainly bring the concept of Greater Albania closer to reality.

Via Strategic Culture

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
3 Comments

3
Leave a Reply

avatar
3 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
Joolz ArtSpitAM Hants Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Joolz Art
Guest
Joolz Art

As much as l like reading the Duran, this story has so many holes in it and is just another bit of Serbian propaganda against Kosovo. Headline say first NATO airbase in Balkans and then goes on to speak about Kosovo, without saying where the airbase will be, could be in Macedonia, Montenegro or Albania, but not in Kosovo. Kosovo already has the largest military base outside of the US so there is no need, or space for another one. The article shows an Albanian flag with and ISIS flag, but no description of what the photo is about. The… Read more »

Spit
Guest
Spit

“The EU has also gone on the offensive.” This war, America cannot win, You should focus on Freedom of speech, not Russia, not China not those Papers even the Indians wont wipe their holes with.
The EU has a Russia right next door, a Russia that is ripe.
The EU has also gone on the offensive.
I hope not.

AM Hants
Guest
AM Hants

The UN Charter, when first discussed in Yalta, Crimea, Russia, back in 1945, was based on ‘self determination/will of the people’. The argument is explained in Resolution 26/2625. The same argument, NATO used in their final report of Kosovo. THE KOSOVO CRISIS IN AN INTERNATIONAL LAW PERSPECTIVE: SELF-DETERMINATION, TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY AND THE NATO INTERVENTION… https://www.nato.int/acad/fellow/99-01/kumbaro.pdf There was no vote in Kosovo, whilst NATO members, ignored the wishes of the people of Crimea, following their referendum. Yet, they both used the same argument? So why would the NATO members, ignore the wishes of the people of Crimea? Was it because NATO… Read more »

Latest

European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

RT

Published

on

By

Via RT…


The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

Published

on

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

Published

on

Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending