Serbia and Kosovo: threat of a new conflict?
The barricades of the Serb minority at Kosovar border crossings have been dismantled but the situation remains tense: the Kosovo government has postponed for one month its plan to stop accepting Serbian passports at the border. According to Pristina, the move was a reaction to a similar measure by Belgrade. The aggravation of the situation in the region is calculated, Europe's press comments.
Vučić digging himself in
The tensions between Serbia and Kosovo serve, above all, to keep Serbian President Vučić in power, the weekly Dilema Veche writes:
“President Aleksandar Vučić, a former politruk with far-right convictions who was in a government with Slobodan Milošević, is trying with some success to position himself as indispensable for solving the problems in the region. One example is the recent unrest in Kosovo, which he first encouraged, only to cleverly contribute to its solution a little later. Until it flares up again. As a political profile, these days, Vučić is more a Viktor Orbán more than a Milošević. And his only concern seems to be staying in power.”
The Western Balkans becomes a risk zone
The international weather situation also makes a regional agreement more challenging, Diena analyses:
“Acceptable but often not lasting compromises in the Balkans can only be reached with the involvement of a broad spectrum of interested countries - the US, the countries of Europe, Russia, Turkey and China, but also the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf. But at the moment, the antagonisms between the leading Western and non-Western players tend to become stronger and compromises more and more difficult, making the Balkans a risk zone. Since a global solution is not yet in sight, we can only hope that the Balkans themselves will correctly assess the situation and the risks.”
Russia stoking tensions in the Balkans
Postimees fears there is more behind the clashes between Serbs and Kosovar police than just a dispute over papers and number plates:
“Every time Europe forgets about the Balkans for a while, something happens to remind it once more. With the European Union focused on Ukraine since February, the Balkan countries are getting less attention than usual. ... As soon as the EU forgets about the Balkans, Russia steps in. It maintains warm relations with the Slavic Serbs and doesn't recognise Kosovo's independence. ... The West in turn fears that Russia will exploit Serbia to destabilise the Balkans and thus divert attention from the war in Ukraine.”
Serbia trying to keep Moscow and Brussels sweet
Serbia does not want to commit itself geopolitically, says Polityka:
“Serbia, which officially wants to join the EU, is trying to keep on the good side of both worlds. It willingly accepts money from the EU and is committed to EU values. ... On the other hand Vučić is not participating in the West's crusade against Russia. Serbia has not closed its airspace to Russian planes and the Russians continue to do business in Serbia. ... It is vital to watch very closely what happens in Kosovo because it is possible that the West will be attacked in some way here too. Directly - likely by local nationalists. Indirectly - once again by Putin.”