Richard Grenell, the former US president special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, has endorsed a foundational myth of Serbian nationalism that considers Kosovo the cradle of Serbian identity.
In a Twitter post on Tuesday, Grenell commemorated the “Serbian holy martyrs” who died in a major medieval battle in Kosovo against the Ottomans.
“Today we honor the Vidovdan heroes. On this day in 1389, the battle against the Ottomans in Kosovo began. Today is a memorial day to Saint Prince Lazar and the Serbian holy martyrs,” Grenell wrote.
Former Kosovo ambassador to the US, Vlora Çitaku, explained to Grenell that the battle was between a Balkan army and the Ottomans.
“This battle became the foundational myth that continues to feed the Serbian nationalism since the 19th century, keeping all of us hostage,” she added.
Kosovo Vetevendosje MP Haki Abazi also rebutted by calling Grenell’s tweet “shameful, untrue and inciting hate and intolerance.”
“You never [cease] to [surprise us] for [the worse],” he added, hinting at a previous conflict between Grenell and Vetevendosje, when the US envoy was pushing for a Kosovo-Serbia deal.
The Battle of Kosovo was a decisive battle fought against the Ottomans in their early expansion in the Balkans by a coalition of Albanian, Bosniak, and Serbian armies.
The myth of this battle fought by Serbs alone has fed Serbian nationalism since the 19th century. Most recently, on June 28, 1989, shortly before the violent dissolution of ex-Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic foretold of possible “armed battles” awaiting Serbia in his speech on the 600th anniversary of the battle. More than 130,000 people were killed and 4 million were displaced during the ensuing wars.
Grenell, who claimed to be an impartial actor in the Kosovo-Serbia dispute, was criticized by a number of US and European experts and former diplomats for his alleged heavy hand on Kosovo during his term as President Donald Trump’s envoy.