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Italy’s economic crisis and the OECD warnings

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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At the Columbia University in New York I have recently met many young, skilful and well-trained Italians, who are very worried about the future of their country.

 Currently the Italian Statistics Institute (ISTAT) tells us that the cost of training multiplied by the number of Italian researchers abroad amounts to over one billion euros a year.

 Every year approximately 3,000 researchers leave Italy for other countries – the well-known “brain drain”. We lose 16.2% of researchers trained in Italy, but we succeed in attracting only 3% of scientists from other countries.

 The reasons which underlie this situation are the following: old-fashioned universities, exam-rigging, corruption and nepotism, never-ending public competitions and ridiculous salaries.

 The “brain drain reversal scheme” started by the  government back in 2001, has convinced only 488 researchers to come back to Italy, of whom less than a quarter decided to prolong their stay in Italy for the following four years.

 A student at the Columbia University told me “we need to start a revolution”. It is true, but we need to agree on the meaning of this remark.

 No other country in the West is undergoing a structural crisis like Italy – and recession is looming large. The current Purchasing Managers Index, which measures the manufacturing activity, is at its lowest level over the last four years, in Italy as in the rest of the world.

 Hence a very severe crisis of the whole Euro area is  expected, while Italy will distribute an ever decreasing  GDP that will be reduced to nothing in the near future.

 Hence obviously the redundancy Fund shall be increased significantly and the public debt, which is already under pressure, will immediately sky-rocket.

  The VAT cannot but increase by 12.5 billion euros – a “safeguard clause” that cannot be met otherwise.

 According to the estimates made by some research centres, the VAT increases – 23.1 billion euros for 2020 and 28.7 billion euros for 2021 – will naturally entail a 1,200 euro annual extra-cost per each household.

 Young people will be the most penalized, considering the low wages and salaries they normally earn – if any.

 It is self-evident that if the VAT increases, the propensity to buy decreases – and this would happen precisely in a recessionary phase.

  Economic masochism, but probably inevitable when you are wrong in defining the public budget composition, as is currently the case.

 Furthermore, within a framework of fully negative forecasts for Italy’s economy, the OECD report of April 2019 has been made public.

 The topics are well-known, given the wide media coverage,  but it is good to examine them analytically.

 In particular, the OECD recommends to work on institutional, economic and social reforms, which have been debated in recent years.

This means and immediate and strict simplification of the government system – probably including a one-chamber parliamentary system, but not in the regional devolution sense envisaged by former Prime Minister Renzi’s proposal –  tax reform and regional simplification with only two or three macro-regions.

 Nevertheless reducing the Regions’ spending powers is an essential issue, currently still capable of redressing public budgets.

 The OECD also recommends a medium-term budget plan within the framework of the EU Growth Pact.

  This means that a program is proposed to correct the annual imbalances with respect to the Maastricht rules and to the other European financial treaties.

 Said program, however, envisages budget cuts that no one knows whether they are possible.

 It is equally true, however, that – according to the current government’s rhetoric and storytelling – these are Draconian rules and measures for Italy.

 Nevertheless we need to refinance a huge public debt and  at the best rates – hence we can only follow the rule of the great football coach, Nereo Rocco: “kick and run”.

 Control of debt securities sale, reduction of public spending and analysis of its effectiveness.

 The sooner we enter the Euro comfort zone and safety area – without ridiculous pseudo-economic theories – the better.

 Furthermore, the OECD asks Italy to implement measures designed to foster productivity. It is an excellent proposal but, from 2010 to 2016, productivity in Italy increased only by 0.14% a year – which means virtually nothing.

  Here we go back to the issue of science and innovation, which Italy is unable to retain in the country, thus forcing the young researchers who produce them to leave.

 The main reason for it is the excessive fragmentation of companies which, due to their small size, cannot invest in innovation, but rather focus on the gradual specialization of low-tech traditional productions, which will soon be swept away by international competition.

 It should be recalled that in Germany the graduates’ unemployment rate is 2-4%, as against the Italian one which ranges between 8% and 13%.

 Moreover, in Italy the number of humanities graduates is twice as much as in Germany.

 Once again, quantity does not favour quality. Quite the reverse.

 Another OECD request is to fully implement the reform of cooperative banks (BCC), also known as banche popolari.

 It is really a thorny issue. Certainly cooperative banks (BCC) must be placed in a position to face and withstand the other types of banks.

 There is the widespread feeling, however, that much of the cooperative banks’ capital (currently the number of members in Italy is equal to as many as 1.3 million) is strongly desired by larger and currently less capitalized banks.

 Italian banks had the Supervisory Authority of the Bank of Italy when their  European competitors resorted to the  usual consulting firms.

  Hence there should be a good reason why the network of cooperative banks is successful, while the network of ordinary banks has a smaller capital allocation ability.

 Hence obviously the OECD basically wants the recapitalization of Italian banks “by other means”, i.e. with the cooperative banks’ liquidity, which is on average higher.

It is by no mere coincidence that 63% of Italian high-risk banks are in favour of the cooperative banks’ reform.

 Another key aspect of the OECD recommendations is the abolition of the so-called “quota 100″early-retirement scheme intended for employees aged at least 62 and having accrued at least 38 years of social security contributions..

Certainly, from Mario Monti’s government onwards, the Fornero pension reform has been the State’s way to “swell its coffers”.

 The impact of “quota 100”, however, is significant on public accounts, if we consider the expected deficit of 17 billion euros. Furthermore, with this schemethere is the risk of an early retirement of civil servants that the Public Administration can partly replace, but the Municipalities cannot replace at all.

 Without changing the Fornero pension reform, over the next two years 500, 000 civil servants would retire from the Public Administration. Currently, however, the “quota 100″early-retirement scheme costs one billion euros for SMEs alone, in terms of severance pay. Nevertheless, with  “quota 100”, the State shall pay 335,000 pensions more than expected.

 Hence spending will rise to 4.7 billion euros and we do  not know yet where this money can be found.

 Moreover, the OECD considers “quota 100” a generational injustice, given the different economic treatment granted to the various pensioners.

 Nor does it seem credible that any job vacated by a pensioner is ipso facto filled by a young person.

 This is tantamount to applying to pensions the “voodoo economics” with which George Bush senior referred to  Ronald Reagan’s economic and tax policies.

 Certainly the “quota 100” early-retirement scheme will reduce staff in hospitals, schools, courts and municipalities significantly.

 And there are no real and cheap alternative options to solve the issue.

 Moreover, as natural, the OECD recommends to reduce tax amnesties, but also asks for a very interesting measure, i.e.  to improve the coordination of the bodies dealing with taxation.

 This is a dual problem certainly requiring to organize the bodies, but also to simplify and streamline rules and regulations.

 For example, a standard tax system for each activity can be defined and the taxpayers’ data in relation to this tax benchmark can be later checked.

 Without tax simplification, there will never be tax fairness and equity. Currently the tax rate on limited liability companies increases by 14%, while the flat-rate regime decreases and the minimum tax bases increase. Everything is fine but, if we do not deal with taxation on natural persons, there will always be a big problem of tax injustice.

 With specific reference to the public investment that the OECD requires, reference must be made to my old friend Paolo Savona and his plan to set aside 50 billion of savings from treasury bonds (BTP) and other securities to be invested in infrastructure.

 That plan on which he had been working, was immediately shelved because the Five Star Movement members cringe whenever they hear people talking about infrastructure to be built.

 Savona was also thinking of introducing the so-called  mini-BOT, named after Italy’s short-term treasury bills -the quasi-parallel currency also permitted by the EU regulations, which leads to investment and growth.

 It was not possible to implement that plan and this already bears witness to the conceptual and practical narrowness of the current government.

 Once again, no imagination and above all no technical knowledge of problems.

 What about the so-called “reddito di cittadinanza” – a citizen basic income which is conditional upon undertaking “unpaid work” in community-based services? It can be implemented, although it is an expensive and probably useless measure.

I share the OECD view according to which it is an artificial increase in the minimum labour income which, however, many small companies will not accept.

 They will prefer not to hire rather than paying wages and salaries competing with the “reddito di cittadinanza”.

 Hence we will easily reach a situation of massive support for long-term unemployment, which will discourage many individuals from undertaking productive work since they would earn less than the “reddito di cittadinanza”.

 Mass poverty, however, does exist, and it mainly results from the fact that, since 1999, 25% of Italy’s production system has moved abroad.

 The OECD also wants to reduce the “tax wedge”.

 It is an excellent idea that is partly already envisaged by the current tax legislation.

 However, what about workers having a good share of their wages and salaries without tax wedge, in exchange for a normal tax return?

 Certainly there are obvious dangers, but entrepreneurs would gain a good share of tax-insurance costs and  employees would pay their taxes independently.

 Another problem to be discussed is the OECD proposal to gradually lower the “reddito di cittadinanza” and, at the same time, introduce a subsidy for low-income workers.

 It is a good, albeit abstract idea: in principle, those having low labour incomes cannot invest in their training.

  Furthermore the subsidy to workers favours the employers’ tendency to lower wages and hence produces  adverse and costly effects.

 It is better to make investment in the education and training sector open to workers or even to provide tax support to have access to the refresher courses organized by the trade unions.

 Finally, the OECD confronts Italy with its long-standing  problems: the per capita GDP is at the same level of 2000,  when we introduced the Euro, but it is anyway clearly below the pre-crisis level.

 Therefore each negative cycle leaves us poorer and less industrialized.

 And hence less able to face our social needs: poverty; the aging of population and the increase in the number of elderly people; the young researchers who leave the country.

 The OECD recommends to provide subsidies to workers.

 Nevertheless, we need to be careful: if entrepreneurs get used to paying a “political” price for wages and salaries, the whole system will collapse.

 The OECD envisages a living wage that is worth 70% of the average wage.

 Will it be enough? However, it shall be linked to a salary already active in companies or also in the Public Administration which – as university researchers know all too well – currently lives on unpaid work.

 But certainly the State must tackle the wage crisis and supplement wages and salaries with the reduction of the tax wedge – with the aforementioned mechanisms and also with ad hoc funds for the most crisis-stricken sectors.

 Certainly an aggressive operation – like the one designed and planned by Hitler’s banker, Hjalmar Schacht, with the “MEFA” securities, which were “private” bills payable by banks – would not be a bad idea.

 A great deal of imagination will be needed here, because currently all the old theories of economic “balance” do no longer apply.

 The OECD also thinks that the regional development funds must be added to those inside ordinary expenses. Currently, however, they are both lacking. Where are the funds to make them effective?

 In short, if we abandon the current policy based on “all power to the imagination” and study problems more carefully, we will probably make a few steps forward.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Strong support of president Putin to Serbia

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Serbia was visited on June 3 by the first man of Russian Duma and one of the closest associates of the Russian President Vladimir Putin. The arrival of Vyacheslav Volodin in Belgrade just a few days after the brutal intrusion of Albanian special forces in the north of Kosovo and amid strong pressure on Serbia ahead of the announced meetings in Paris in early July, sends a clear message. That message could be heard at a special session of the Serbian National Assembly:

“Brotherly Serbian people, as always, can count on Russia’s help!”

This statement of Vyacheslav Volodin is extremely important because this was a message of Vladimir Putin to the Serbian people. As Vyacheslav Volodin pointed out, Vladimir Putin knew that he would speak in the Serbian parliament, so he personally sent greetings and words of support to Serbian people.

During the visit to Serbia, the Russian official praised Serbia`s economic improvement, adding that success is even greater since it has been achieved in dificult geopolitical circumstances. Vyacheslav Volodin, stated in Belgrade that the “intrusion“ of Kosovo`s special forces into the north of Kosovo was aimed at frightening the Serbs, establishing control there by force, adding that the Serbs could count on Russian help in future.

Also Volodin said that the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 should be respected. He stressed that Russia will not support the moves of the EU and the United States, that would lead to tensions.

“We believe that all parties must respect Resolution 1244, and those who do not, must be responsible. The interests of sovereign Serbia must be respected in accordance with international law,” Volodin said.

„The UN should express its stand. Its authority and also peace in the Balkans depend on its determination and concrete moves,“ Volodin also stated in Serbia`s Parliament. He criticised the European Union and US behaviour and added that „the absence of clear EU reaction to Pristina`s provocations raises doubt the bloc is capable to mediate in the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on normalisation of relations. Volodin said that some states adopted a practise of double standards and openly interfere with the internal issues of other states.

“ We think that is unacceptable. It is necessary to confront that if we want to preserve our nation, country, its sovereignty and independence,“ Volodin said, mentioning Libya and Iraq as examples.

Speaking about the relation between the two nations, he said that the Russians, always felt they were obliged to help and protect the Serbs. Later, Volodin had a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and invited him to address Duma, next time when he visit Moscow.

Vucic accepted, saying it would be a great honor for him to talk about the relations between Serbia and Russia in front of Duma members.

Volodin  also announced that  Free Trade Agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and Serbia can be signed by the end of the year. Currently, more than 800 companies with Russian capital operate in the territory of Serbia.

The message of Vyacheslav Volodin about Kosovo is in line with the message that President Vladimir Putin has been repeating for years.  The views of the President of Russia on the issue of Kosovo are not changing since the beginning of the crisis:

– February 2008 – The case of Kosovo is a terrible precedent that essentially breaks out the entire system of international relations, which was created not for decades, but for centuries.

– May 2018. – Vucic asked Putin to help Serbia in the UN and other international organizations, on what was answered that Moscow will actively monitor the talks between Belgrade and Pristina and the influence of various parameters on that issue.

–  January 2019 – Moscow is in favor of a mutually acceptable solution of Belgrade and Pristina, but based on UN Resolution 1244.

–  January 2019 – Resolution 1244 does not allow the existence of any armed formations in Kosovo other than the United Nations contingent.

However, despite the clear position of Russia on Kosovo, Serbian President takes a different policy. The goal of Aleksandar Vucic is the “demarcation” between Serbs and Albanians. And for a long time he has been secretly negotiating with the President of the self-proclaimed Kosovo Hashim Thaci. And, so far Vucic’s policy towards Kosovo has been catastrophic and has caused great damage to Serbian national interests.

By signing Brussels agreements, Vucic destroyed the defense of northern Kosovo, giving police and civil protection to Pristina. This denied the right of Serbs to self-defense, and he himself is not able to protect them. Recent events in the north of Kosovo, especially in Zubin Potok, are the direct result of the capitulation of the national and state policy of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic towards Kosovo. Vucic aim is to force the Serbian people to accept an independent Kosovo. After recognition of Kosovo, Serbia would accelerate its full membership in NATO. Already today some associates of Aleksandar Vucic say that Serbia is surrounded by NATO, and that Serbia must adjust its policy according to the situation. If that were to happen it would be another geopolitical blow to Russia, which would be completely cut off from the Baltic to the Adriatic and the Black Sea. Therefore, NATO could further increase pressure on Russia.

 From our partner International Affairs

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Candidates for European Commission President: Who is who

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Photo: European Parliament

The race for President of the European Commission has got under way. According to the rules which are questioned by many in the European Union but have so far enjoyed majority support in the European Parliament, the new head of the “executive branch” of the European Union will be elected from among the “top candidates” (Spitzenkandidat) – those nominated by European parties which have factions in the European Parliament. A candidate will finally become President of the European Commission after he receives support from EU leaders in the European Council (the Council is currently headed by former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, known for his paranoic attitude towards Russia) – this procedure should be over in June. A formal approval by the European Parliament should come next.

So who has the biggest chances and what are the political platforms of potential winners?

Judging by arithmetics, the leader of the European People’s Party (former Democratic Christians) faction in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, is in the lead. His faction remains the largest, albeit smaller in number than before,  in Parliament – 180 members. A Bavarian,  Weber is 46 years old, and is considered to have been promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He seems to be at odds with his patroness Merkel, who supports the Nord Stream – 2 project. Last year he spoke out strongly against this project, which envisages the transportation of Russian gas to Western Europe across the bottom of the Baltic Sea: “I am against this project. It does not meet the interests of the European Union,” –  he said on April 23, 2018, in an interview with the Polska Times newspaper which was quickly picked up by news agencies.

However, analysts do not rule out a certain discrepancy of conduct on the part of Merkel, who continue to support Weber’s candidacy even after the above statement. Apparently, Merkel  has no intention of becoming the one responsible for  “burying” the Nord Stream,  which is so profitable for the German business. However, if this project is ruined by the head of the European Commission nominated by her, she will be able to get out of it safe. She would explain such a result by a “clash of opinions that is natural for democracy”.  Nord Stream-2 is the only project which the United States doesn’t approve but which Merkel supports in words. (Normally, in matters of principle, Angela Merkel does not tolerate any differences of opinion within the ruling team in the Federal Republic of Germany.)

However, as remarked by the EU Observer website, close to the Brussels-based globalist elite, Merkel may refuse to back Weber at the last moment – two Germans will not be allowed to occupy the two key positions in the EU – head of the European Commission and chairman of the European Central Bank. Moreover,  Merkel wants to put Jens Weidman, the current head of the Central Bank of Germany, in charge of the European Central Bank.

The second most likely candidate is Margrethe Vestager of the Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) party. The party’s faction, which has 109 members after the elections, is the third most powerful and is known for its anti-Russian position. The leader of the ALDE faction, Belgian Guy Verhofstadt, who is officially the main “spin doctor” of Mrs. Vestager, made a statement unacceptable from the diplomatic point of view on the global Internet resource Project Syndicate before the recent elections to the European Parliament. He accused his colleagues in the European Parliament – representatives of a number of sovereign European countries (Italy, Great Britain, Hungary)  – of being the “fifth column” of Russia in the EU. He said: “Just like the illiberalism of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the partnership between the European right and Vladimir Putin has been going on for too long.”

Vestager is the European Commissioner for Competition, who has been dubbed “Tax Lady” by President Trump, for her relentless pursuit of alleged monopolies in Europe. Simultaneously, Vestager calls for the extension of sanctions against Russia and for measures against Russian “energy monopolies” in Europe (what is implied by these words is easy to guess – the long demonized by European mass media Gazprom). For these views, Mrs. Vestager is openly admired by the British magazine The Economist, which came out on May 28, 2019 with the headline: “The Iron Lady of Politics from Denmark should lead the European Commission.”

Nevertheless, even Mrs. Vestager’s admirers admit in this issue of the magazine, as well as in other European media that she is unpopular in her home country, in Denmark. At home, Vestager’s candidacy for the highest post in the European Commission was publicly supported only by the leader of a “related” party – the head of the Danish Liberals Lars Lokke Rasmussen. Even Liberals and Social Democrats acknowledge that the EU was unable to protect Denmark from illegal migration,  so since 2016, Copenhagen has maintained “temporary” control on the border with countries of the Schengen zone. Naturally, a lady representing  the “ineffective” EU is unlikely to be loved at home.

Nevertheless, the structure of the current European Union does not require politicians to be popular at home in order to get a high-powered and financially attractive job in the European Commission. What presents interest in this regard is the opinion of Marlene Vind, a professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen: “The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, just recently pointed out the need for gender balance in the EU, and this is a strong support for Vestager,” – Wind says. “Besides, you can be 100% sure that not a single Danish prime minister will say no if EU leaders offer a Danish woman such an important position in the EU.”

The third likely candidate with strong chances for success is Dutch Social Democrat, France Timmermans. A representative of the Labor Party of the Netherlands,former foreign minister of the Netherlands, and at present the first vice-president of the European Commission, he is known for his initiatives on sanctions against the Polish “retrogrades” from the “Law and Justice” Party. Timmermans can count on the support of 146 MPs from the Socialists and Democrats. In the early 1990s, he worked at the Dutch Embassy in Moscow, disseminating the “light of democracy” in Russia. Afterward he represented the Netherlands during an inquiry into the crash of the MH-17 aircraft over the Donetsk region in 2014.

From a foreign policy point of view, Timmermans represents the most exotic ideological trend in the European Union – he is dreading an “union of Putin and Trump,” which, along with the “rise of nationalist forces in Europe,” could destroy the EU.

In February 2017, already holding the post of European Commissioner Timmermans declared: “We are witnessing a hybrid war, we see it in Ukraine. Will the Baltic countries be next? We bear witness to the return of the threat of a nuclear war. …. And just imagine the Cuban missile crisis played out on Twitter between Presidents Trump and Putin,” – Timmermans said, addressing the Future Force conference. It is unlikely that anyone could have imagined it, but we could attribute it to the speaker’s wild fantasy.

The reverse of Timmermans’paranoic attitude towards Russia is the praise of the European Union, which he glorifies as a kind of unique “ecosystem” of the most civilized and peaceful nations of the planet. Probably, Mr. Timmermans forgot the “civilized” destruction of Yugoslavia by the “peaceful nations” of Europe.

This blend of “green” demagogy and the new “democratic” racism of the forces that won in the last Euro elections (they say Western Europeans are above  other nations thanks to “exclusively” European democratic institutions) is an ideology that is totally hostile to Russia.

The other candidates – Frenchman Michel Barnier, Czech Jan Zahradil and  “green” German Ska Keller – have few chances due to lack of strong factions in the European Parliament.

As it happens, in its relations with the EU Russia should not expect Brussels to change its position in the near future. But, as they say, eternity in politics does not last long. 

From our partner International Affairs

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Tensions in Kosovo: Russia closely monitors the situation

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Police of self proclaimed state of Kosovo launched raids in the early hours of Tuesday morning in the Serbs-majority north of Kosovo, sparking an angry reaction from Serbs.

More than twenty people have been arrested so far. Among those arrested is the chief of police of the village of Zubin Potok. A Kosovo police officer was wounded by a gunshot during the operation, but is not in danger of losing life. Two other officers were also injured, according to doctors in North Mitrovica.

Kosovo Police said that in Zubin Potok(north Kosovo), barricades were set up and tyres set on fire to deter police officers. Kosovo police also stated that the operation was launched to detain suspects who have allegedly been participating in or organizing criminal groups and have been involved in the smuggling of goods, misuse of official positions, bribery and trading in contraband. According to information the operation has nothing to do with the murder of Enver Zymberi, a policeman who was killed in the north of Kosovo eight years ago, nor with the investigation into the death of Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic, who was murdered in 2018.

The head of the Serbian government’s office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, said on Tuesday morning that the goal was to cause fear and panic.

“This morning, around 6am, special units of the ROSU (Regional Operational Support Unit) stormed in from three directions into the north of Kosovo, into the territory of all four (Serb majority) municipalities, with the aim of intimidating and provoking panic”, Djuric told Tanjug agency. He said that “separatists from Pristina have reached for more terrifying methods to scare Serbs” and want to “create an impossible climate for Serbs in Kosovo”. Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the Interior Ministry ordered the Serbian Army to be put on full combat readiness, Tanjug reported. Tanjug also reported that Vucic launched “intensive diplomatic activities” over the raids.

“The president asked Western political authorities to control Pristina and let them know Serbia will not allow ethnic cleansing”, Tanjug said.

A Russian diplomat was also arrested. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia has stated that is unacceptable to arrest a Russia citizen in Kosovo, asking the UN mission in Kosovo for comprehensive information on his arrest and his release.

“The arrest was carried out regardless of the fact that Russian citizen has diplomatic immunity of UN staff. We consider this to be an unacceptable act as another manifestation of the provocation of the Kosovo-Albanian authorities, stated Maria Zakharova, the official spokesman of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.The Russian diplomat was released after the protest of Russian Government. However, according to unconfirmed information, he was beaten by the Kosovo Police.

The Russian State Duma instructed its Committee on International Affairs to closely monitor the situation in Serbia because of the intensification of the situation in Kosovo . On the occasion of the incidents in Kosovo, the Russian ambassador to Serbia Alexander Chepurin spoke.

“We strongly condemn the incursion of Kosovo Special Forces in Kosovo-Serb-populated areas. This is extremely dangerous and it’s not in line with all existing agreements, “said Chepurin on Twitter.

The Serbian Armed Forces are in fully combat readiness, and according to the information, its movement under full military equipment was also observed. Serbian combat jet Mig 29 flies over an administrative line with Kosovo.

“If there is any threat to order and the life of people in northern Kosovo, our army will protect our people,” stated Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic.

Concluding Thoughts

Russia is monitoring the situation in Kosovo and is ready to provide support to Serbia. The arrest and beating of Russian citizen Mikhail Krasnoshchekov, which is a member of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, is actually a message to Russia by the West. As stated by the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, the incursion of special forces is another provocation and the establishment of control over the region by force:

” It is clear that such defiant behavior of Kosovars is a direct consequence of many years indulging from EU and the Uited States”,- stated Maria Zakharova.

However, an important role also has Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic. At yesterday’s session in the Serbian Parliament, the President of Serbia, as the basic message to the Serbian people, said that Serbia should accept independent Kosovo. In other words, Vucic is still fighting for demarcation, after which a small part of Kosovo would be left to Serbia. Otherwise, in his opinion, the Albanians will attack the Serbs in Kosovo. The defeatist attitude of the President of Serbia practically encouraged the Albanian separatists to take such a move which we can see today. It is precisely on the issue of Alexander Vucic’s policy towards Kosovo that Russia should take a stronger position. The Russian Foreign Ministry regularly repeats that for Russia the solution of the Kosovo problem is UN Resolution 1244. And this is the correct policy, which is in line with the Russian and Serbian national interests. However, Aleksandar Vucic, contrary to the will of the citizens of Serbia is pursuing his policy towards Kosovo.

  First published in our partner International Affairs

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