Tensions Escalate as Serbian Military Movements Near Kosovo Border Raise Concerns

01
Oct
2023
Vudi Xhymshiti

Pristina, Kosovo – In a concerning development, the Serbian military has deployed units along three different directions towards the border with Kosovo, raising fears of a potential escalation in tensions between the two nations. The Kosovo government, through an official statement, revealed that units from the second brigade of the Serbian army have moved from the Rashka region towards the northern border of Kosovo, units from the third brigade have advanced from the Nis region towards the northeastern border, and units from the fourth brigade have positioned themselves from the Vranje region towards the eastern border of Kosovo.

The Kosovo government expressed alarm over this aggressive move, emphasizing that these Serbian military positions include air defense and heavy artillery systems. They accused Serbia of potential aggression against the Republic of Kosovo and highlighted the urgent need to safeguard the nation’s territorial integrity.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti stressed the importance of defending the border, while President Vjosa Osmani reaffirmed Kosovo’s commitment to peace and security. The Kosovo government has maintained continuous communication with the United States and EU countries regarding this serious threat from Serbia. The United States has promptly and directly responded to Serbia’s aggressive stance, backing Kosovo’s security concerns.

The government called upon Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian institutions to immediately withdraw all military forces from the border with Kosovo. They also demanded the closure and demilitarization of the 28 forward military bases and 20 police bases that pose a constant threat to Kosovo.

Kosovo, with its predominantly Albanian population, has faced ongoing tensions with the Serbian minority, particularly in the northern regions. The situation escalated following an incident on September 24, where Kosovo Police officer Afrim Bunjaku was killed in Banjska, Zvecan, by an armed Serb group. In the subsequent operation, three attackers were killed, and eight individuals were arrested, with four of them later released.

Prime Minister Kurti condemned the incident, pointing to evidence that Serbia sponsors terrorism in the northern regions of Kosovo. He called for international extradition of those who fled to Serbia and designated the “Civil Defense” and the “Northern Brigade” as terrorist organizations. Kurti also criticized the international community for not holding Serbia accountable for its actions, which he argued emboldened the country to repeat its crimes.

President Osmani, who also serves as the Supreme Commander of the Kosovo Security Force, met with Defense Minister Ejup Maqedonci and Chief of the Kosovo Security Force, Major General Bashkim Jashari. They discussed recent security developments and reiterated Kosovo’s commitment to peace and security, emphasizing cooperation with international allies.

Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic assured that Serbia does not intend to deploy its military forces within Kosovo’s territory. He acknowledged the reduction of Serbian troops near the administrative border, stating that Serbia has reduced its forces from 14,000 to 7,500, with further reductions planned. However, international observers remain sceptical, with some arguing that these moves might destabilize the region further.

International responses have been swift, with Germany urging Serbia to withdraw its forces from the Kosovo border promptly. Germany, along with other international partners, emphasized the importance of avoiding further escalation and urged both parties to continue the political dialogue urgently.

The situation remains tense in northern Kosovo, and the international community closely monitors developments, fearing the potential for further unrest and conflict in the region. Diplomatic efforts are underway to de-escalate the situation and ensure peace and stability in the area.

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