West Must Protect Kosovo from Serbian and Russian Aggression, Urgent Call by Senior Politicians

07
Aug
2023
BY: VUDI XHYMSHITI

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In an unprecedented alliance, global leaders demand a paradigm shift in Kosovo-Serbia relations to counter aggression. Urgency and unity define their call for a balanced and resolute strategy.
AUG 7

Figures from Britain and the US state their opposition to a ‘Belgrade-centred policy for the Balkans’ amid continued tensions.

In an unprecedented display of unity, ten Chairs of Foreign Affairs Committees and fifty-six Parliamentarians have joined forces to issue a resounding call for a fundamental shift in the approach of the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom towards the Kosovo-Serbia conflict. This joint appeal comes as tensions continue to escalate in the Balkans, highlighting the urgent need for a balanced and robust diplomatic strategy.

Prominent British MP, Alicia Kearns, succinctly encapsulated the rallying cry:

“We need deterrence diplomacy, where we ensure there is balance in our dealings, and we do not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

The stark call to action underlines the growing consensus among key Western stakeholders that a fresh perspective is required to prevent history from repeating itself in this volatile region.

In a letter exclusively shared with The Telegraph, these influential figures voiced their concern over the vulnerabilities of Kosovo in the face of Serbian and Russian aggression. The West’s current approach to nation-building in Kosovo, they argued, is inherently flawed and could leave this Balkan ally susceptible to foreign intervention.

The letter was directed to James Cleverly, the UK Foreign Minister; Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State; and Josep Borrell, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Chief. This unified expression of concern demonstrates a rare alignment of thought among high-ranking officials who share a commitment to stability and de-escalation.

Tensions in northern Kosovo have escalated in recent times, with both sides pointing fingers at each other. Serbia has raised concerns of “silent ethnic cleansing” by the Kosovan government, while Kosovo accuses Serbia of fomenting unrest. Notably, Russia’s ongoing conflict in Ukraine has further exacerbated these existing tensions, given Serbia’s historical ties with Russia. Despite Serbia’s official condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, its alignment with Moscow’s interests remains a source of contention.

Nato Kfor soldiers clash with ethnic Serb protesters in May 2023 (Photo: Reuters/Laura Hasani)
The letter also highlights specific incidents that underscore the need for a more balanced approach. It criticized the lack of sufficient pressure on Serbia following the arbitrary detention of Kosovan police officers and the failure to hold accountable those responsible for attacks on Kfor peacekeepers.

One of the core issues is Serbia’s refusal, along with a handful of European countries, to recognize Kosovo as an independent state. This persistent disagreement dates back to the war that claimed over 10,000 lives, primarily ethnic Albanians. The international community’s call for Kosovo’s sovereignty has been met with resistance, perpetuating a source of instability in the region.

Despite some efforts by the EU and US to address the situation, the signatories of the letter maintain that more assertive measures are required to ensure lasting stability. Recent discoveries of arms caches in northern Kosovo and reports of ongoing weapons smuggling across the Serbia-Kosovo border have heightened concerns of further escalations.

The Kremlin’s role in the turmoil cannot be ignored. Analysts suggest that Russia has been playing a role in fueling unrest in Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, deploying its propaganda machinery to influence the narrative. This has led to pro-Russia sentiment among segments of the population, even as support for EU membership has waned.

The call for a new, balanced approach is signed by a diverse group of influential figures, including Alicia Kearns, Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, along with several MPs and members of the House of Lords. Their resounding message emphasizes the pressing need for a fresh outlook and the avoidance of a skewed “Belgrade-centred policy for the Balkans.”

As tensions continue to rise and geopolitical dynamics evolve, this united call for change resonates as a crucial step towards securing lasting peace and stability in the volatile Kosovo-Serbia region. The international community now stands at a crossroads, with the imperative to learn from past mistakes and adopt a more effective strategy for the future.

Lawmakers push each other as a brawl breaks out in Kosovo’s parliament in July 2023 (Photo: Ridvan Slivova/AP)
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Botuar: 07/08/2023

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