Is red ribbon making a comeback in the Balkans too?

The early elections of February 14 in Kosovo are being eagerly awaited by the citizens. The hope for change is great but what change it will be, remains to be seen after the 14th of February. The Guardian called it a ´wave of anti-corruption´ and some dozens of left wing philosophers led by world infamous Slavoj Zizek sent a letter in support of the current opposition leader, Albin Kurti who is leading a campaign under the slogan “All and Straight.”

A big competition is taking place mainly between the three largest political parties in the country, for the next term of government. Electoral campaign that gathers thousands of citizens in times of pandemics, looks terrifying and a new wave of infected people with COVID 19 will be the highest bill of this campaign which citizens will pay in the end.

At a time when Kosovo is at a political and economic crossroads, a part of the political factor, with its military past, is not part of the electoral competition for the first time in Kosovo. Former President Hashim Thaci and former Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK) leader Kadri Veseli and several other former KLA[1] members are facing war crimes charges in The Hague.

February 14 at this stage for Kosovo is seen as a challenge in itself. Will the political scene in Kosovo continue to be so polarized or will early elections produce another fragile government that could affect Kosovo’s role in the region and beyond, as well as in talks with Serbia? It remains to be seen after February 14th.

Red ribbons all over Pristina before the early elections! What they are warning?

The largest party in the country at the moment, the Self-Determination Movement (LVV), a left-wing party with an extreme politics, is campaigning under the slogan “All and straight “, mainly in street marches. LVV was founded as a social movement in 2005 and is known for protests in the streets, tear gas in Parliament and strong stances against international interference in Kosovo’s internal affairs. LVV was against the UN mission in Kosovo, against the EU mission in Kosovo and for a long time has ignored the Kosovo as a state claiming that it is a temporary state. With it, also LVV did not accept state symbols, claiming that they were imposed by the international community undemocratically.  This rhetoric has led to a large polarization and fragmentation of the electoral body but also the entire population.

In 2017 when they decided to run for national elections, its leader Albin Kurti, in addition to accepting the symbols of Kosovo, at that time was seen in the stadium in support of the Kosovo National Football Team. Efforts for “change” in LVV are being noticed during these elections as well. Rewriting history by deleting all anti-American and far left-wing statements from the official website and the party gazette web page that were published until 2014, proves the attempts for historic revisionism of the party. Among the communications that has been removed from the site is the one of April 3, 2013, in which Self-Determination Movement declared that the state of Israel has risen above the direct military and economic crime of the USA and other Western countries. Some other statements include anti-Trump and anti-Biden writings.

Latest action of LVV confused many in Kosovo when they installed red ribbons throughout Kosovo cities without the explanation. Red ribbons, started with Liberation of Tirana in 1944 when communists entered the city, they used red ribbons to mark themselves. This trend of red scarves and ribbons symbolized communism in former Yugoslavia, Albania to Russia and China. Many, in Kosovo link the red ribbons as return of the far left in fear. The symbolic action of LVV is reminding Kosovars of the atrocious crimes of communist Yugoslavia committed against Albanians with the installation of partisan movements in Kosovo in 1945. Events such as Massacre of Drenica (Kosovo) where some twelve thousand Kosovar Albanians were killed in a `cleaning ops` are hard to forget. Similarly, Massacre of Gjilan (Kosovo) or even the Tivar Massacre (Montenegro) where young Partisans of Albanian ethnicity were shot in an unprecedented action in the verge of the end of WWII.

Is red ribbon making a comeback in the Balkans too?

 

LVV’s red scarves installation in Pristina, Kosovo.

Is red ribbon making a comeback in the Balkans too?

 

LVV’s red scarves installation in Pristina, Kosovo.

Is red ribbon making a comeback in the Balkans too?

 

Anniversary of the revolutionary youth, DEBATIK (United Boys Members of Communist Ideas), Tirana, 1979. Scenography absolutely dominated by the red headscarf (pionerskiy galstuk) and invented by the Bolsheviks, Albania.

Kurti is running with the former LDK candidate for prime minister in the last elections, on his side. Vjosa Osmani which is an acting president, lost the elections to Kurti for several thousand votes in the last elections held in October 2018. They joined forces after a coalition fell apart mainly due to misunderstandings between far left LVV and right wing LDK. Vjosa Osmani disapproved the fall of coalition and now is running mate of Kurti in his list of candidates for the MP. The deal between them is that Mrs Osmani will get the Presidency.

Is red ribbon making a comeback in the Balkans too?

 

Vjosa Osmani and Albin Kurti, Twitter.

A disadvantage in these elections is the lack of its leader, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, while the PDK, which was first led by Hashim Thaci and then Kadri Veseli, both former KLA leaders, directed the campaign, mainly towards economic development and job creation. PDK is calling to be voted for them also because of its former leaders, Thaci and Veseli, who are currently on trial for war crimes. This will not affect the growth of this party, not because of the judgment of its leaders, but because of being in power in previous terms.

With an ambiguous slogan “Shteti. shtet.” which means the State is a State, the oldest party in Kosovo Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), also entered the election competition. LDK has the governed in the last term in coalition with LVV, but governance was short-lived due to political disagreements with each other. Also LDK is not expected to increase, due to “mistakes” during previous governments and the last coalition with LVV. Looking at the latest developments in Kosovo, the spirit of LVV clearly has an advantage over the old political class.

Pre-election surveys as never before are showing a high percentage of votes for LVV. If this trend proves accurate after the February 14 elections, Kosovo will have a government led mainly by the LVV alone.  None can predict what type of government Kurti will bring in a cross between Vjosa Osmani who is a right wing in essence and Kurti´s political party which is far left party. One things is for sure, political opportunism prevailed over the ideology.

[1] Kosovo Liberation Army

Arbesa Hoxha- Dobrunaj

Arbesa Hoxha- Dobrunaj

Kosovo based analyst that focuses on current affairs, communication and technology. She studied Albanian Literature, and Economics, Management and Information Sciences. MA in Journalism and Communication. Co-authored the Worlds of Journalism Study report on Kosovo Journalists.

The post Is red ribbon making a comeback in the Balkans too? appeared first on IGTDS.

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