Balkans | Tensions continue to rise between Serbia and Kosovo

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Balkans |  Tensions continue to rise between Serbia and Kosovo

Ongoing tension between the two Balkan states, Serbia and Kosovo, culminated in barricades erected at border crossings by Kosovo Serbs, who protested the arrest of former Serbian police officer Dejan Pantec.

A series of events between the two countries in recent days has caused tensions between Kosovo and Serbia to escalate dramatically.

In order to fill the administrative void following the resignation of Kosovo Serbs from all institutions in the country in November, Kosovo announced snap general elections on December 18 in 4 municipalities with dense Serb populations.

The increased presence of the Kosovo Police in areas densely populated by Serbs on December 6-7, due to bombings and attacks in northern Kosovo, was met with reactions from Serbia, and these events were the first sparks of tension between the two countries.

The Kosovo side blamed Serbia for the bombings and attacks in the north and stated that it had beefed up security to maintain order ahead of the elections.

While the Serbian side stated that Kosovo Serbs living in the north were restless, President Aleksandar Vucic announced that he was planning to deploy his security forces in the region.

After all these events, the President of Kosovo, Fyuza Osmani, announced the postponement of early general elections, which were scheduled for December 18, until April 2023, but this decision was expected to ease tension, and the tension between the two countries increased.

Barriers erected by Kosovo Serbs are exacerbating tensions

On 10 December, when Osmani announced the decision, Kosovo police arrested former Serbian police officer Pantek, one of those who resigned in November, on charges of attacking government offices. Kosovo Serbs have also erected barriers at border crossings in response.

As the barriers were erected, tensions between Kosovo and Serbia escalated, and Kosovo said police officers were fired upon by members of some criminal groups, who blocked roads in the north of the country the next day.

The Kosovo-Serbia line became a point of contention after it was announced that a patrol team of the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EOLEX) had been attacked with a stun grenade near barricades erected by Kosovo Serbs.

Serbia stated that Kosovo Serbs are trying to make their voices heard by international institutions by building barriers.

On the other hand, Serbian President Vucic convened the National Security Council meeting on the evening of December 11, and said a million times that he would keep peace before ordering war.

While the European Union called for de-escalation and a return to dialogue, NATO, the United States and many international officials expressed their concerns about the events taking place in northern Kosovo.

While the tense wait continued in northern Kosovo, education in the region was suspended due to roadblocks being erected.

Kosovo and Serbia had just reconciled

Tensions stemming from Serbia still seeing Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, as its territory have pitted the two countries against each other several times.

Recently, the two countries, which were strained after Kosovo declared that the license plates that the Serbian authorities had given to the Serbs in the country in the past months to the “RKS” (Republic of Kosovo) plates, managed to leave the table with a compromise with the intervention of the European Union.

Serbia and Kosovo, which clash periodically, are trying to find a common way to normalize relations, and eventually the two countries get to know each other, within the scope of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue process that began in 2011 with the mediation of the European Union.


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