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Students of Mehmet Akif College protest the Turkish arrest of their teachers in Pristina, Kosovo, on March 29, 2018. Photo: Armend Nimani/AFP via Getty Images

In the latest example of Turkey's brazen expansionism into Kosovo, it secured the extradition of six Turkish teachers it has accused of belonging to the Gulen movement, which President Erdogan blames for the failed 2016 coup. Kosovo's Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, has since fired his interior minister and intelligence chief for deporting the Turkish nationals without his knowledge.

Why it matters: Transparency and the rule of law are necessary for Kosovo to gain greater global recognition. But Turkey continues to treat Kosovo like a vassal state, impinging on its sovereignty while expanding its cultural and commercial influence inside its neighbor's borders.

Erdogan has belittled Kosovo's status as an independent nation, maintaining that the two countries "belong to a common history, common culture, common civilization …Turkey is Kosovo, Kosovo is Turkey!

Turkish firms have won contracts for large public projects and services, including management of the Pristina International Airport and ownership of the utility company KEDS. Such privatization is rife with corruption: The former CEO of one of the companies that acquired KEDS, for example, is Erdogan’s son-in-law. Without more oversight in the commercial sector, Kosovo won't be seen as a credible destination for foreign investment.

Turkey also exports Islamism under the guise of cultural cooperation, through the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA). Since 2012, TIKA has restored scores of Ottoman religious structures and built dozens of new mosques across Kosovo. On behalf of Turkey, Erdogan pledged funds for a mega-mosque in Pristina. Overt symbols of religiosity have not historically been characteristic of Kosovars.

The bottom line: Kosovo is at a crossroads: It can either entrench the rule of law and progress with Euro-Atlantic integration by investigating matters like the recent extradition, the financing of Turkish corporate acquisitions and the operations of TIKA — or it can succumb to Erdogan's Islamist and anti-Western agenda.

David L. Phillips is director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University and a former senior adviser to both the UN Secretariat and the U.S. Department of State.

Go deeper

Rohingya refugees sue Facebook over Myanmar hate speech

Internally displaced Rohingya peoples at a market area in the Baw Du Pha IDP Camp in Sittwe in Myanmar's western Rakhine state. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Rohingya refugees accused Facebook in a $150 million lawsuit filed Monday of amplifying hate speech against the persecuted minority Muslims in Myanmar via algorithms and failing to take down inflammatory posts.

Why it matters: Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been killed in Myanmar in what the United Nations deemed a genocidal campaign. Tens of thousands of others have been displaced, notably following a massacre by Myanmar's military in 2017.

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that two Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: The Greensboro-Randolph Megasite will employ 1,750 people and have four production lines, each capable of delivering enough lithium-ion batteries for 200,000 vehicles when it opens, per a Toyota statement.