What comes after the terrorist attack in Kosovo?

Following the most serious confrontation between Kosovo and Serbia in recent years, Europe's press is debating the future of the region. Under EU mediation the two countries are engaged in talks aimed at normalising their tense relations, but so far without results. Pristina is not willing to extend self-government rights for the predominantly ethnic Serb communities in Kosovo. Commentators examine the situation, also as regards Serbia.

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Peščanik (RS) /

Questionable mourning for murderers

Pešćanik finds it problematic that Serbia declared Wednesday an official day of mourning for the Kosovo Serbs who were killed in the attack:

“The dead of Serbian nationality (to use the government's words) are at best murderers, at worst terrorists. But the inflamed Serbian public has no problem with the whole nation mourning the deaths of such individuals. On the contrary, in the last three days we heard the government urging people to observe the day of mourning because of the events in Kosovo.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Perhaps someone wants to stop Vučić

The real loser here is the Serbian president, Jutarnji list notes:

“The escalation occurred only ten days after the unsuccessful latest round of the Serbian-Kosovar dialogue in Brussels, which was basically perceived as a victory for Vučić against Kurti. The US and the EU were unhappy about Albin Kurti's lack of cooperation and even threatened isolation and certain sanctions. Now things have turned around and Vučić has lost the small advantage he had secured over a long time. The question is whether someone - and everyone is pointing to the east - set a trap for Vučić when he was in the lead and there was a real chance of a deal with the US and the EU.”

Kleine Zeitung (AT) /

EU pursuing the wrong strategy

The plan presented by EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell can't go well, the Kleine Zeitung criticises:

“How do you deal with erratic heads of government like Vučić, who to this day is unable to decide whether he wants to lead his country into the clutches of Russia or China or into the EU? How to deal with the all-or-nothing demands of Kurti who sees the full recognition of Kosovo as a sine qua non for further negotiations? Borrell's double strategy of starting to build a Serbian association of municipalities in the north of Kosovo and at the same time working on Serbia's recognition of Kosovo can't work under these conditions.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Time for plain talk from Brussels

Europe must adopt a clearer stance on the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, Dnevnik demands:

“Both Serbia and Kosovo understand very well what they are arguing about. Kosovo will either be a sovereign state with full rights or a re-occupied territory. The politics of both countries are based on a nationalism that was already uncontrollable in the 1990s. European Union politicians must at least start speaking in plain language. When there are misunderstandings, sometimes vagueness can be wise. But in conflicts it leads to unwise policies.”

France Inter (FR) /

A fire that delights Moscow

Europe must reinforce the prospect of EU accession for Serbia and Kosovo, columnist Pierre Haski insists on France Inter:

“Russia has lent its support to Serbia in this incipient crisis and is delighted to add fuel to a fire that affects Nato countries. Because 25 years after its independence Kosovo remains under the protection of Nato, which has a military presence on its territory. ... The European Union is trying hard to mediate between Belgrade and Pristina by enticing them with the prospect of EU accession by 2030. However, this prospect still seems too uncertain to calm the nationalist impulses on both sides. However, as we have seen elsewhere, only the European idea can resolve such a deadlocked conflict.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Serbia's delusions of grandeur

Jutarnji list shakes its head over its neighbour:

“Serbia declares a day of mourning over the deaths of four terrorists, Novak Djoković howls that he 'doesn't understand how 19 powerful states could attack little Serbia back then' and Vučić speaks at the UN as if he were an envoy of Lukashenka and Putin. ... Although Serbia has lost wars in which its people have committed terrible atrocities, been sanctioned and caused an exodus of Serbs from neighbouring countries through its own policies, Serbia continues to be deeply obsessed with the fantasy of being a chosen people. One which sooner or later will right all the wrongs allegedly done to it. As long as the West continues to simply observe this without a concrete reaction, the Balkans will remain a powder keg.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Belgrade could up the ante

Ukrainska Pravda fears a dangerous escalation in the region:

“The Serbian authorities have always tried to present any conflicts in northern Kosovo as a spontaneous reaction by the local Serbs to the oppression by the Kosovo administration. But it will be very difficult to portray Sunday's clashes in a light that is favourable to Belgrade. ... If Kosovo can prove Belgrade's involvement in organising the riots, Serbia's position could be significantly weakened. However, this doesn't mean that the situation in the region will stabilise. There are several indications that Serbia would then raise the stakes to make the West afraid of a resurgence of the war so that it puts pressure on Kosovo.”