U.S. President Brokers Deal Between Serbia and Kosovo
United States President Donald Trump has accomplished another major foreign-policy achievement: Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to normalize economic ties in a deal brokered in the White House, President Trump announced September 4. The agreement includes the two regions setting up a common market with a removal of tariffs between the two sides and an integration of energy and water resources, as well as renewed transportation links that were severed in the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia. Kosovo has agreed to suspend its applications for international organizations while Serbia has stated it will cease boycotting such applications.
Many hope that this is the first step to fully normalize political ties between the two parties.
Both Balkan nations were part of the former Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia collapsed in the 1990s in the aftermath of the fall of East European communism, with the various ethnic groups—predominantly the Serbs, Croats and Bosnians—each trying to form nation-states based in what each side considered their traditional territories. The overlapping territorial claims, combined with old ethnic prejudices and historical animosity, brought the region into a bloody quagmire of civil war that lasted most of the decade.
But the Balkans were a powder keg long before the wars of the 1990s. The late 1800s and early 1900s saw Serbia and Bulgaria competing with each other for dominion as the Ottoman Empire’s influence crumbled in Europe. The assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb was one of the catalysts for World War i. World War ii greeted the Balkans with a Nazi invasion and the establishment of a Croatian fascist puppet state, where the first death camps of the Third Reich were set up, mainly for the extermination of the Orthodox Serbs at the hands of the Catholic Croatians.
Only the strong-arm rule of Communist dictator Josip Broz Tito seemed to bring the region any sense of stability. That stability collapsed after Tito died in 1980. Just over a decade later, ethnic and religious communities that had been neighbors for hundreds of years—for better or for worse—were slitting each other’s throats in the forests of Bosnia and eastern Croatia.
While the wars may have ended 20 years ago, the Balkans have continued to grapple with the aftermath of the conflicts. Tensions in many key areas, including Kosovo, remain.
President Trump, at least in a small way, seems to have given the region a bit of stability once more.
Unlike Croatia and Bosnia, Kosovo was not a constituent republic of Yugoslavia but an autonomous province of Serbia within Yugoslavia. Serbs consider the region the medieval heartland of their civilization. The traditional headquarters of the Serbian Orthodox Church is located in Kosovo, but the region was and is predominantly populated by Muslim Albanians. Amid the chaos of the wars with the other Yugoslav nationalities, the Albanians in Kosovo launched an insurrection against Serbia in 1998, with Belgrade initiating a bloody crackdown of Albanians in return.
This prompted the intervention of nato air strikes, which forced Serbia to hand over Kosovo to the United Nations for administration while the province nominally remained part of Serbia. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, something Belgrade has never agreed to or acknowledged.
Most Western nations diplomatically recognize Kosovo, but a large number of important global players do not. Among the most prominent of these are Russia and China, friends of Serbia who use their United Nations Security Council veto power to snuff out any Kosovar applications for UN membership. Other countries that do not recognize Kosovo include India, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico (all G-20 economies), as well as Spain, Greece and Romania (all European Union and nato members).
The EU has been attempting to mediate between the two parties for roughly 10 years without much success. Both Serbia and Kosovo are in the process of applying for EU membership. The EU refuses to grant Serbia membership until it recognizes Kosovo. Until Serbia recognizes Kosovo, the region is under a legal limbo that causes it problems when it comes to membership in international organizations as well as the power of its citizens’ passports abroad. Both of these issues have made it difficult for any progress to be made.
While the current deal brokered at the White House is more economic than political, it has made far more progress than anything else that has been tried.
The deal also involved pledges from both Serbia and Kosovo to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and open up embassies there. This makes Serbia the first European country and third in the world, behind America and Guatemala, to do so. (An outgoing president of Paraguay also recognized Jerusalem’s status, but the recognition was withdrawn once the incoming Paraguayan administration came to power.)
Kosovo would be the first Muslim-majority nation to recognize Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital. Kosovo and Israel do not currently recognize each other’s legitimacy, but the governments of both regions have pledged to do so.
This comes on the heels of another historic agreement mediated by President Trump between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, only the third Arab state ever to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
The White House said in a press release: “After a violent and tragic history and years of failed negotiations, my administration proposed a new way of bridging the divide. … By doing so, [President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia and Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti of Kosovo] have made their countries, the Balkans and the world safer. I look forward to seeing Serbia and Kosovo prosper as we work together on economic cooperation in the region going forward.”
The twofold diplomatic breakthrough President Trump was able to achieve is impressive. When you put this together with the Israel-U.A.E. deal, the deescalation of the nuclear crisis with North Korea, and the air strike against powerful Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani and subsequent Iranian backpedaling from Iraq, one can see that America is experiencing a foreign-policy resurgence under President Trump.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has written extensively about America’s resurgence under the current administration. He specifically associates President Trump with a prophecy in 2 Kings 14 about one of ancient Israel’s last but most successful kings, Jeroboam ii. Two years ago he wrote in “Saving America From the Radical Left—Temporarily”:
While most other kings [of Israel] died by intrigue or betrayal, Jeroboam’s reign did not suffer from such violence and curses. The nation experienced a period of relative strength and stability, even prosperity. … Donald Trump has proved himself willing to take a stand where others have not. It is quite something to behold him resisting these anti-American forces! … We are seeing what I wrote in [my free booklet] Great Again, that after President Trump took office, “Conditions in America may improve for a short time.” … What we are seeing is actually a modern-day fulfillment of what happened in ancient Israel under Jeroboam ii. A bit of a resurgence, some renewed prosperity ….
This resurgence is spilling over into Israel. We wrote in the September 2019 Trumpet issue, “America and its president are a major part of Israel’s success, and its confidence and optimism. At a time when anti-Semitism is mounting globally and Israel is being maligned and isolated, having the support of America’s president has been extraordinary and indispensable.” Getting two nations—one of them having a Muslim majority—to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem is a part of this success.
However, as Mr. Flurry pointed out in his article, this resurgence is only temporary. When America falls, it will fall hard. One has to wonder how this diplomatic resurgence in both America and Israel will come crashing down.
Under the Trump administration, America has been ostracized by many important players in the international community—states like Germany, France, China, Russia, Iran and even Canada. Meanwhile, international organizations like the UN and EU routinely harass Israel with declarations, regulations and resolutions intended to marginalize it.
Partly because of this, Washington and Jerusalem have been branching out to nontraditional allies also marginalized by the international community—especially in Eastern Europe. The new deals with Serbia and Kosovo are part of this trend.
Partly due to the nato bombing in 1999, Serbia has historically had a relatively cool relationship with the Western world. However, under its strongman President Aleksandar Vučić, the state has had warming relations with both America and Israel. Vučić stated in 2017 during a meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence that Serbia was “the only country in the region that greeted [President Trump’s election in 2016] with great enthusiasm.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly called Vučić his friend, most recently after the announcement of the new U.S.-brokered deal this month.
However, Serbia is not the only East European nation to draw closer to America and Israel. Netanyahu is known for having a very close relationship with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. During a visit to Israel in 2018, Netanyahu hailed Orbán as “a true friend of Israel” who has “stood up for Israel time and again in international forums.” This may be true; Hungary is seen as one of Israel’s strongest supporters in the European Union. However, the Hungarian strongman has also publicly praised the regime of Miklós Horthy, the dictator and Nazi ally of Hungary during World War ii who assisted Hitler in his various East European military campaigns and launched severe discrimination against Hungarian Jews. Orbán’s government has also been repeatedly accused of whitewashing Hungary’s responsibility in the Holocaust, twisting historical narratives to make Hungary’s Nazi collaborators seem like anti-Soviet freedom fighters.
Orbán also apparently is fostering a good relationship with Donald Trump. He was the only EU leader to endorse the Trump campaign in the 2016 election. In a 2019 meeting at the White House, President Trump repeatedly praised Prime Minister Orbán for the direction he was taking Hungary, comparing Orbán’s political style with his own.
Another East European country that America is growing closer to is Poland. Recently, Washington deployed about 1,000 nato troops to Poland in security against Russia. President Trump has said that he has a “close personal relationship” with Polish President Andrzej Duda and that America has never “been closer to Poland than right now.”
But President Duda has been accused of anti-Semitism. In 2018, the Sejm (the Polish legislature) passed a law supported by Duda that would have criminalized statements claiming that the Poles were complicit in the Holocaust, with jail time threatened for those who use certain phrases, such as “Polish death camp.” While the Germans were the primary architects of the Holocaust and the death camp systems in Poland, many Poles collaborated with Nazi authorities.
The bottom line: The East European neighbors that America and Israel are courting may not be reliable or trustworthy.
The Bible prophesies that America and Israel (as well as Britain) will be invaded by a modern-day resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. Prophecies in Daniel 2 and 7 and Revelation 13 and 17 speak of a “beast” power, the Roman Empire and its various resurrections, that wreaks havoc on the world. Daniel 2:40-44 depicts this final resurrection as being divided into 10 “toes,” five on one foot and five on the other.
In our booklet He Was Right, we demonstrate that the two legs of iron, representing the Roman Empire in general, show that Rome would be divided into two separate divisions, one based in Italy and the other in the Byzantine Empire. The 10 toes of Daniel 2, when combined with a prophecy in Revelation 17:12, are revealed to be 10 kings that will combine their forces to re-create the Roman Empire. The division of the two feet, corresponding with the two historical regions of ancient Rome, shows that five of the kings will be from Western Europe and five from Eastern Europe.
Herbert W. Armstrong, founder and editor in chief of the Plain Truth magazine, predecessor to the Philadelphia Trumpet, wrote in a 1980 co-worker letter regarding which countries would comprise the 10 toes: “It now looks entirely feasible that Yugoslavia may be included in this revived Roman Empire. Also the pope’s native Poland and Romania, and possibly Hungary.”
Mr. Armstrong felt that Yugoslavia, Poland and Hungary could be part of the final resurrection of the Roman Empire! (Yugoslavia doesn’t exist anymore but is still important in the prophetic scheme of things. To understand why, read our free booklet Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans.) If this is the case, then the trust America and Israel are placing in Eastern Europe will lead to a massive double cross.
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu may see their fellow anti-establishment leaders in Central and Eastern Europe as their natural allies. Time will prove this to be a mistake. To learn more about what is happening in Eastern Europe and what it means for you, read our article “Introducing Europe’s Eastern Strongmen.”