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Thursday, September 28, 2023


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WorldAsiaSerbia and Kosovo.. Europe feels a new ticking time bomb

Serbia and Kosovo.. Europe feels a new ticking time bomb

The escalation followed clashes between residents and Kosovar police in three Serb-majority regions, following an attempt by Serb residents to block Albanian mayors from taking office after being elected in April during a a controversial vote.

These tensions are frequent in the three regions of the former Serbian region, whose independence Belgrade did not recognize in 2008, and where the population of 120,000 Serbs defies the local government.

Belgrade Steps

After the clashes between the Kosovo police and the Serbian population, a rapid development took place in Serbia, which is still committed to protecting the Serbian minority in Kosovo, as follows:

On Friday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic ordered the army to be on alert and “move” towards the border with Kosovo. Vucic chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee on Saturday morning, and the meeting adopted a plan “of security activities aimed at strengthening Serbia’s defense capabilities”. The National Security Committee keeps the Armed Forces of Serbia on high alert until further notice.

conflict history

This Serbian rhetorical escalation is not new as Belgrade has put the Serbian military on high alert several times in recent years following similar incidents, the most notable of which were:

A rhetorical escalation erupted between the two countries last fall, in the context of Kosovo’s attempt to impose fines on the Serb minority for not registering their car numbers with state numbers. Tensions arose after Kosovo declared independence in 2008 and Belgrade did not recognize it and encouraged the Serbian minority to respect their loyalty to Serbia. Skirmishes between the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian forces in the 1990s turned into war and an international NATO intervention to protect the Albanian minority in 1998

call for calm

Western countries have taken the developments over the past two days very seriously and issued several statements in an effort to control the situation and defuse the escalation.

The United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany have called on Kosovo authorities to “immediately reverse their decision” to deploy special forces in the three provinces. The five countries also expressed concern over Serbia’s decision to raise the level of readiness of its armed forces. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has called on Kosovo institutions to immediately de-escalate and all parties to resolve the situation through dialogue. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti shrugged off Western pressure, stressing that he understands partners’ concerns, but that any other option would amount to failing to fulfill his constitutional obligations.

escalation risk

Commenting on the current situation, Czech-Canadian analyst specializing in international affairs, Mitchell Belfer, told Sky News Arabia:

The Western Balkans are still on the brink of a new conflict, and most efforts over the years have focused on freezing conflicts rather than resolving them. Existing tensions can be manipulated more easily than ever to achieve the goals of a larger superpower, given that Serbia is a longtime ally of Russia and Kosovo owes its independence to the United States and the NATO. It seems that the Russian invasion of Ukraine may encourage some of Moscow’s allies to use more aggressive means in pursuit of their local interests, knowing that Russia will defend them politically. There is not really much interest at the moment in resolving the tensions amicably in a lasting framework so it is very easy to reignite the conflict in the Western Balkans.

west position

On the possibility of major Western powers playing a role in defusing the escalation, Belfer said major European powers are caught between deterring Russia and dealing with internal problems, so they are not in able to calm any conflict between Serbia and Kosovo. He also considered that the outbreak of new hostilities on the European continent would be devastating in terms of material and human resources for the continent.

Russia’s position

Regarding Russia’s stance on the escalation between Kosovo and Serbia, US security and strategic affairs expert Irina Tuskerman told “Sky News Arabia” that Russia is now seeking to deflect attention of the international community about the war in Ukraine. and tries to sow discord in its ranks and slow down efforts to support Kyiv. And he opined that “Russia is funding uprisings and unrest using cryptocurrencies and cash and has installed intelligence operatives to stir up trouble”, noting that “Russia is unlikely to participate directly to war because of lack of capabilities”.

On the same point, political analyst John Berkeley said on Twitter:

Serbia is a close ally of Russia and the latter could ask Belgrade to provoke a war to divert NATO’s attention from Ukraine, so there is a very real possibility that another war will break out in Europe.

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Arab Desk
Arab Desk
The Eastern Herald’s Arab Desk validates the stories published under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on easternherald.com.

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