At the moment we have small fires in the form of isolated incidents, firefighters are now observing and marking the fire, but not putting it out. At the moment we need a little sand and water to put out the fire, but with one liquidation everything can get out of control – says Dusan Janjic, President of the Forum for Ethnic Relations, who speaks to Pobjeda about the current situation in Kosovo, noting that neither Albanians nor Bosniaks are indifferent to these events.
Belgrade is encouraging the Serbs on the barricades by demanding the return of the army and police to Kosovo, up to 1000 of them under resolution 1244, but these forces can protect the border, the Serbian monasteries and take part in mine clearance, which means they cannot protect the Serbs in the enclaves.
Asked what is meant by Serbia’s demand for the return of the army and police to Kosovo, Lunić says that this demand is not realistic.
Serbia’s request for the return of security forces to Kosovo is legally possible, but in the current geopolitical context it is not realistic. The same is true of Pristina’s EU membership application – Nikola Lunić, Executive Director of the Strategic Policy Council, answers our question.
Lunić points out that “it is obvious that both parties are making such unrealistic moves in order to strengthen their positions in the negotiation process and to achieve cohesion among their own electorates, in order to secure support for any concessions in the negotiation process”.
Having come to the region because of accumulated problems, Escobar made it clear to the authorities in Belgrade what he thought about the return of Serb forces to Kosovo.
We categorically reject this, we do not support it at all … We do not expect that to happen. Kosovo has strong US assurances, which are reflected in KFOR’s cooperation, Eskobar said.
Asked whether he had received assurances from the Serbian President that the barricades would be removed, Escobar said that they had a commitment, not a promise, that the barricades would be removed and that the Serbs would return to the institutions.
He told the authorities in Pristina to work immediately on the Association of Serb Municipalities…
I call on the Government of Kosovo to accept the people who return, to allow them to return, and then we will move forward with discussions on normalization – said Escobar.
Janjic explains the situation as follows.
The commitment is Vucic’s story: ‘I am for peace, but I have my conditions – that is, the formation of the Association of Serb Municipalities, and then I will see what I can do’. The Serbs from Kosovo forced him to join them, he is happy about that because he is a patriot. Basically, this is just the political part of the game. The reality is that Kurti is pretending that this has not happened, that the Serbs have not left the Kosovo institutions, and this is disturbing the other side. And the culmination is the story of the Serb traitors, in which Vučić put Rada Trajković – says Janjić.
Barricades are a specialty of the Serbs, but they cannot always be managed.
This is Vucic’s problem, because he knows from experience that one day the barricades will turn against him, as they did against Boris Tadic. The barricades are manned by those who have to and those who want to. After a few days, those who want to want more than what Belgrade can promise them… – explains Janjić, stressing that “the barricades are a serious security problem for the region as well”.
Janjić asks how, who and when will remove the barricades: the Serbs, Pristina or KFOR, and predicts that they will be there for the New Year.
We have daily contacts between the police and disgruntled people at the barricades and first incidents – destruction of property. So it can easily turn into terrorist or other murders in an environment that can spread – warns Janjic.
It is clear that the departure of the Serbs from Kosovo’s institutions was orchestrated from Belgrade, and the next plan is to continuously complain that they are victims of the criminal regime of Kurti, as Belgrade describes it.
The legitimate question is who is responsible for the crisis in Kosovo, Vucic, Kurti and why, and how Serbia will get out of this problem.
The crisis in Kosovo does not suit anyone, least of all the people themselves – says Lunić, explaining that in the context of a geopolitical recomposition of power, Pristina is trying to portray Serbia to the international community as a proxy ally of Russia, even though Serbia is merely a victim of an aggressive hybrid war that Russia has been waging for a long time in the region”.
Nevertheless, Lunić stresses that the international representatives involved in the negotiation process understand the importance of strict compliance with the agreements signed so far, in particular the Brussels Agreement, according to which Pristina is committed to the creation of the Association of Serb Municipalities.
By creating a continuum of crises, Kurti is avoiding international obligations and keeping his promise to his electorate about the inadmissibility of the constitution of the Association of Serb Municipalities. Nevertheless, it seems that we are heading towards a gradual resolution of the problem, as the mediators have also abandoned their conformist diplomatic rhetoric and insist on the establishment of the Association of Serb Municipalities. After that, the way is open for further normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina – Lunić believes.
Could the Kosovo crisis spill over into the region?
The continuum of crises in Kosovo represents only a series of tensions created for the purpose of limited political goals. There is no possibility of it escalating into a conflict on either side, nor would the international community allow it to do so. Therefore, we should not expect the crisis to spread to the region. However, it is high time that patriotism was unleashed in the region and that national interests and regional trust, rather than nationalistic hatred and discrimination, were promoted. That is why, in complex times, we need to build long-term alliances to help us pursue the vital interests of everyone in the region – says Lunić.
Janjić explains that the crisis engulfed the region as early as October 2021, and in January 2022, the SC adopted decisions that concern the whole region – to de-escalate the situation and raise the level of security, and to resolve things politically.
Now we have a full-blown crisis in Montenegro, where everything is paralysed, everyone is pretending that everything is fine. If the Russian presence in the north of Kosovo is to be cleared up, it is really about the Democratic Front and the financing of some in Montenegro. The aggravation of relations, which has been going on for days, cannot remain without its impact on the Bosniaks and Albanians living in Rožaje and Bijelo Polje – explains Janjić./Pobjeda