Journalist and writer from Kosovo and editor-in-chief of the Balkans, Biram Pomak “How will end the barriers crisis in northern Kosovo?We offer you the article entitled “.
Over the past year and a half, northern Kosovo has been associated with constant crises. There is a close link between these crises and the establishment of the Federation of Serbian Municipalities, which is the most difficult matter in the process of Kosovo’s dialogue with Serbia. While the issue in the north concerned the Federation of Serbian Municipalities, it took a different direction and began to take on a different meaning with Russia’s attack on Ukraine. While the crises we witnessed here previously related to the Balkans, the European Union has taken a different stance in the face of tensions, as this has evolved into a European crisis with the Ukraine war. The parties met in Brussels on August 18, and the parties could not come to an agreement, but developments after this meeting showed that concrete proposals for a new agreement were put forward. Both sides note that this document, which appears as a Franco-German proposal, is in fact a European proposal.
After the recent tension in the north, all Serbs were killed in Kosovo institutions by the police, judiciary, parliament, etc. He resigned from all institutions and there was a vacuum in Kosovo’s institutions. Similarly, on November 8, the mayors of four Serbian municipalities resigned. Accordingly, the government of Kosovo appointed Nenad Rašić, who was not on good terms with Belgrade, as a minister in order to improve the constitutional situation, the Serbian president came out harshly, calling Prime Minister of Kosovo Corti a “terrorist”. The Kosovo Election Commission announced on 18 December that elections would be held to replace the mayors who had resigned. However, the situation in the north was not in any way conducive to holding elections, and therefore the elections were postponed to April 23, 2023 due to the demand of the United States and the current circumstances.
EULEX police tried to partially fill the security gap in the north, but it was not enough. This time, gunfire and the sounds of bombs began to rise in the north. Masked and armed Serb groups did not appear on every corner. Neither the Kosovo police nor NATO/ISF were in place so that the situation would not deteriorate further. The Kosovo police arrested Dejan Pantik, a former police officer, for the bombing. This time, the Serbs started to set up barricades again on 10 December, using this as an excuse. Northern Kosovo is currently under the control of these paramilitary structures. Regarding these barriers, Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti said, “KFOR has asked us for more time to remove the barriers, but we cannot afford this for long.”
There are not only Serbian paramilitaries in the barricades in the north, but also Russian paramilitaries. And in fact, the leader of the Russian extremist group “Night Wolves” Alexander Zostanov broadcast on the Telegram channel whose members were also present. Barricades, “The victory of Serbia is the victory of Russia.” He explained how they support their Serb “brothers”. Similarly, many Serbs in Russia are fighting against Ukraine. These indicators reveal the extent of Russia’s power in Serbia. Some public information shows that Russia is powerful enough to carry out a coup d’état in Serbia. As a matter of fact, it is alleged that Russia was behind the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who was killed in 2003. That is why Serbia does not impose sanctions on Russia despite all that Europe imposes. In this, both bilateral cooperation and existing equilibria are effective. In this regard, the Kosovo issue has been and remains an area of contention between NATO and Russia. While Serbia is considered a stronghold for Russia, Kosovo is a stronghold for NATO.
Due to the tense situation, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced that they would request 1,000 Serbian soldiers and policemen from the Kosovo Force to settle in Kosovo, based on UN Resolution 1244 and the Kumanova Military Technical Agreement. Faced with this requirement, both the United States and Germany asserted that it would not be possible to accept it. On the other hand, Corti stated that Serbia’s request is an indication of how helpless they are. Serbian public and international circles believe that this demand of Vucic is unrealistic.
Naturally, with this crisis, the European Union and the United States of America began to increase their diplomatic work both in Pristina and in Belgrade. At first, the most striking issue about the situation is that the European Union and the United States are in no hurry in this regard. And there is data showing that there is controlled chaos. We see that the US Special Representative for the Western Balkans has stated that Escobar’s barriers must be removed by the people who erected them. Likewise, EU Representative Lajcak stressed that barriers should be removed by diplomatic means, not by bulldozers.
Special Representative of the United States Escobar emphasized that no matter what happens, Kosovo is obligated to establish the Federation of Serbian Municipalities, expressing that this is an international obligation and that Kosovo must fulfill it, while the German Chancellor declared that the parties must be ready to do so. Privileges. It is very likely that all this tension will end in an agreement. It is understood that an agreement has already been reached between the lines of some statements, but the public is trying to be prepared for these developments, and it is certain that sooner or later the Kosovo government will agree to the creation of the Federation of Serbian Municipalities. As a matter of fact, Escobar is giving signs of an agreement by saying, “We will see that at the end of this process the barriers will be removed and the Serbs who have resigned will return to their posts.”
Although it is expected that the Federation of Serbian Municipalities will be established and an agreement will be achieved at the end of the process, the other actors in the process should not be underestimated. The interest of Russia and Serbia is to continue with the status quo, and especially Russia’s interest in creating new crises that will distract Europe. Therefore, the closer we get to the agreement, the greater the risk of larger crises. Russia is doing its best to confuse the Balkans in the true sense. Intervention in Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro and North Macedonia in the Balkans benefits Serbia as well as Russia.
In conclusion, the issue of northern Kosovo is a much larger issue than the issue of Serbia and Kosovo. Still a black spot in Europe. However, what is happening here is not limited to affecting Balkan geography. Issues related to the region and the interests of the great powers in the region. When one force takes a step, it is difficult to predict how the other force will move. For this, we need to look at the previous raid on the Parliament in North Macedonia, and also examine the coup attempt in Montenegro.
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