By Anthony Marcus, consultant in geopolitics, for Eurasia Business News, December 11, 2022

The European Union is going to send its special representative for the Western Balkans to Kosovo to help reduce tensions in the region. He will arrive on Dec. 14. This was announced by the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell.

Our special envoy will go to the region the day after tomorrow and return before the EU summit so that I can assess the situation and inform the leaders,” Josep Borrell said at a press conference following the meeting of EU foreign ministers.

On December 10, the situation in northern Kosovo began to deteriorate further after the detention of former Serb policeman Dejan Pantić by Kosovo law enforcement agencies. In response, the local Serb population built barricades on the roads and protested. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called December 11 his most difficult day of work as the country’s leader.

Municipal elections in four cities in the north of Kosovo, populated mainly by Serbs, was scheduled for December 18 by Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani. This happened after the Kosovo Serbs, in coordination with Belgrade, withdrew from the Kosovo authorities in early November. Some mayors resigned. It was a protest against Pristina’s decision to ban the use of license plates issued in Serbia on its territory. Although the problem was subsequently resolved through EU mediation, Serbs refuse to return to Kosovo until the Community of Serb Municipalities is formed in Kosovo.

When representatives of the Kosovo government tried to enter the premises of election commissions in the north on December 6, where they were met with bombs and shooting, some polling stations were destroyed. Two days later, reinforced police units arrived in northern Kosovo, officially to prevent inter-ethnic conflicts between local Serbs and Albanians.

Belgrade accused Pristina of “illegally sending special forces to the north of Kosovo in order to expel the Serbs.” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic held an emergency meeting with the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff of the Republic on Friday. And the head of the Serbian government, Ana Brnabic, stated: “The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, brought all of us, Serbs and Albanians, to the very edge of the war.”

The conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, which arose in the summer, is escalating. Belgrade and Pristina are gathering military and police forces to the borders. Now experts do not rule out an armed clash. 

In July, the Pristina authorities issued a decree according to which a fine could be imposed on car owners with Serbian license plates. This decision sparked protests among Serbs living in the north of the province. However, then the authorities of Serbia and Kosovo were still able to agree and avoid escalation of the conflict, postponing the introduction of restrictions to the autumn.

On December 8, the Serbian authorities reported the occupation of Serb areas in Kosovo and Metohija. About three hundred Kosovo special forces in armored vehicles entered the city of Kosovska Mitrovica, blocking it. In response, the Serbian government said that such actions violate the 2013 agreement, and in response promised to return about a thousand representatives of the Serbian security forces to the area.

On the evening of December 11, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic convened the National Security Council because of Kosovo’s threats to solve the problem by force with the involvement of a NATO contingent. According to him, the country was “pinned to the wall.”

Despite the fact that Aleksandar Vucic called on albanians and Serbs to maintain peace in Kosovo and Metohija, according to some analysts, the likelihood of armed clashes is quite high. And the result of them will clearly not be in favor of the Serbs, who are not in a position to resist the combined forces of NATO. The network also voiced the “true” reason for the escalation of the conflict. According to experts, it lies in Belgrade’s friendship with Russia and resulting pressure from NATO.

The Serbia’s national defense strategy is built around a model of territorial defense. The total number of the Serbian regular armed forces is 28150 military personel. Of these, 13250 servicemen represent the ground forces (including the river flotilla). The air force and air defense forces number 5100 personnel. Training command – 3000 people. Guard – 1600 people. Other formations of the Ministry of Defense – 5200 people. Serbia has also an organized reserve of 501500 people. In addition, 3700 people serve in the military structures of other law enforcement agencies, including the gendarmerie.

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