Serbia Seeks NATO's Approval To Send Troops Into Kosovo

Serbia Seeks NATO's Approval To Send Troops Into Kosovo

by Swarajya Staff - Sunday, December 11, 2022 07:14 PM IST
Serbia Seeks NATO's Approval To Send Troops Into Kosovo Serbia and Kosovo

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said he will ask NATO for permission to deploy security forces in Kosovo, though he has "no illusions" about the response. It would be the first time Belgrade has made such a request, following growing tensions in the Serb-majority north of Kosovo. The UN has allowed Serbia to deploy up to 1,000 military, police or customs officers at Orthodox religious sites, in areas with a Serb majority, and at border crossings, but only with the approval of NATO's Kosovo Force. In recent days, there have been explosions, shootings and attacks on police patrols in Kosovo.

The leader said at a press conference that he would send a letter to this effect to the commander of the Kosovo Force (KFOR), led by NATO on a mandate from the United Nations (UN), under the Security Council resolution that ended the Kosovo war (1998-1999). Under the terms of the UN resolution, Serbia has the power to deploy up to 1,000 military, police or customs officers at Orthodox religious sites, in areas with a Serb majority and at border crossings, subject to the green light from KFOR. It would be the first time that Belgrade would make such a request.

Tensions in Kosovo have been rising since the arrest of a former Serb policeman suspected of involvement in attacks on Kosovo police. This led to the resignation of Serbian law enforcement officers and civil servants, who were protesting against the Kosovo authorities' decision to replace Serbian-issued license plates with Kosovo-issued ones. The situation has been further inflamed by the decision of the Kosovar authorities to hold local elections on December 18 in municipalities with a Serb majority, which the main Serbian political parties plan to boycott. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani has now postponed the elections until April 23.

Kosovo's Serb minority, numbering around 120,000 people, does not recognize the authority of the Kosovo government in Pristina, with support from Belgrade, which does not recognize Kosovo's independence declared in 2008. The situation has raised concerns about the potential for further violence in the region.

The ongoing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have their roots in the Kosovo war of 1998-1999. After years of conflict and the failure of diplomatic efforts to resolve the situation, NATO intervened with a bombing campaign against Serbian military targets. This eventually led to the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo and the deployment of NATO peacekeeping troops under a UN mandate. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia, along with several other countries, has not recognized its independence.

The relationship between Kosovo and Serbia has remained strained, and there have been periodic outbreaks of violence, particularly in the Serb-majority areas of northern Kosovo. The latest tensions have raised fears of a potential return to conflict in the region, and the decision by Serbia to request the deployment of security forces in Kosovo is seen as a potentially significant development.

The deployment of Serbian security forces in Kosovo would be a contentious move, as it would be seen as a violation of Kosovo's sovereignty. It is not clear how NATO or the UN would respond to such a request, but it is likely that they would reject it.

In the meantime, the situation in Kosovo remains tense, and there are concerns that the ongoing tensions could lead to further violence. The postponement of the local elections has been welcomed as a potential de-escalation measure, but it remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient to calm the situation.

It is clear that the underlying issues that have led to the current tensions in Kosovo, including the lack of recognition of Kosovo's independence by Serbia and other countries, will need to be addressed in order to prevent further conflict in the region.

One of the key challenges in resolving the situation in Kosovo is the lack of diplomatic progress in recent years. Despite efforts by the international community, including the European Union, to facilitate dialogue and negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, there has been little progress in overcoming the deep-seated political and cultural differences between the two sides.

Furthermore, the political situation in both Kosovo and Serbia has become increasingly volatile in recent years, with both countries facing domestic political challenges and a rise in nationalist sentiment. This has made it difficult for leaders on both sides to make the necessary concessions and compromises that would be required for a lasting resolution to the conflict.

In the absence of meaningful diplomatic efforts, the situation in Kosovo is likely to remain tense, and there is a risk that further violence could erupt. It is crucial for the international community, particularly the EU and NATO, to continue to engage with both Kosovo and Serbia and to support efforts to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict.

Kosovo is located in the Balkans, a region that has a history of ethnic and political conflict. The recent resurgence of tensions in Kosovo has raised concerns about the potential for further instability in the region, and the potential for conflict to spread to neighboring countries.

In particular, the potential deployment of Serbian security forces in Kosovo could have serious implications for the stability of the region. This could lead to a backlash from Kosovo and its allies, and could potentially lead to an escalation of the conflict. It could also have broader regional repercussions, with other countries in the Balkans potentially being drawn into the conflict.

Another key aspect of the situation in Kosovo is the role of Russia. Russia has long supported Serbia in its dispute with Kosovo, and has consistently opposed Kosovo's independence. In recent years, Russia has increased its presence and influence in the Balkans, and has used its political and economic leverage to support Serbia and other allies in the region.

This has raised concerns among Western powers and the EU about Russia's strategic interests in the Balkans, and the potential impact of Russian involvement on the stability of the region.

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