The long-running dispute between Kosovo and Serbia was a major driver of conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s and led to the separation of Kosovo (with its ethnic Albanian majority) from Serbia at the end of that decade. Belgrade and Pristina have never normalised relations with each other, with Serbia continuing to refuse to recognise Kosovo’s independence. The sharpest point of friction today is the level of self-rule in the four northern Kosovo municipalities, home to a Serb majority, and their connection to Serbia. Violent protests have occurred repeatedly since 2021. Crisis Group closely watches developments in the region and recommends ways to foster dialogue that could help avert violence and eventually lead to normalised relations.
In late May, violent protests broke out in Kosovo’s four northernmost municipalities, where Serbs form the majority. In this Q&A, Crisis Group expert Marko Prelec explains what caused the unrest and what should be done to defuse tensions.
NATO reinforced peacekeeping force following deadly clashes in northern Kosovo; Serbia and Kosovo leaders met in Brussels amid intense international pressure.
Tensions ran high in northern Kosovo as NATO bolstered troop presence. NATO reinforced its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo following deadly attack on Kosovar police officers in northern Kosovo late Sept. Notably, UK 1 Oct announced deployment of around 200 soldiers, Romania 3 Oct promised some 100 troops and Germany 6 Oct pledged 155 troops. Meanwhile, U.S. 2 Oct welcomed Serbia’s announcement to withdraw some troops from border but emphasised continued concern about “cycle of rising tensions and sporadic violence in northern Kosovo”.
EU and U.S. urged Pristina and Belgrade to resume dialogue. Leaders from EU and Western Balkans nations 16 Oct held ninth Berlin Process summit in Albanian capital Tirana, aimed at boosting cooperation and reconciliation to advance EU integration. During summit, European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged Pristina and Belgrade to return to EU-mediated dialogue on normalisation. Serb President Aleksandar Vučić did not attend, instead travelling to China for Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. PM Kurti and Vučić 26 Oct met on margins of European Council in Belgian capital Brussels, but were unable to reach agreement; France, Italy and Germany 27 Oct called on Kosovo to launch procedure to create Association of Serb-majority Municipalities and on Serbia to “deliver on de facto recognition” of Kosovo.
There’s just zero trust [between Kosovo and Serbia] and active hostility on both sides.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker speaks with Marko Prelec, Crisis Group’s consulting senior Western Balkans analyst, about the latest flare-up of tensions in northern Kosovo, what it means for the prospect of normalisation between Belgrade and Pristina and the potential for further escalation.
Kosovo-Serbia relations have floundered in recent months, reflecting underlying tensions over Kosovo’s northern municipalities. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Spring Update, Crisis Group encourages the EU to mediate and promote normalisation of relations between the two countries.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker talks to Crisis Group expert Marko Prelec about the precarious situation in the Western Balkans, as Serb separatism in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the frozen Kosovo-Serbia dispute continue to stoke regional instability.
This week on War & Peace, Crisis Group’s Balkan expert Marko Prelec joins Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope to discuss why the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has stalled, why the status quo is untenable and how to change it.
Online Event to discuss Crisis Group's report "Relaunching the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue", in which we discussed what currently stands in the way of a new status quo and what it will take to relaunch the process with the Pristina elections in view.
Dreizehn Jahre nach der Abspaltung des Kosovo von Serbien verharren beide Länder in gegenseitiger Nicht-Anerkennung, mit nachteiligen Auswirkungen für beide. Die Parteien müssen über die technische Details hinausgehen und die Hauptprobleme angehen, um die es geht: Pristinas Unabhängigkeit und Belgrads Einfluss auf die serbische Minderheit im Kosovo.
While Kosovo and Serbia have been at peace since 1999, the unresolved dispute over the former’s independence is a potential source of instability in the western Balkans. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to determine whether there is possibility to expressly focus on achieving a final agreement based on mutual recognition, help establish communication channels between the parties, and highlight that both Begrade and Pristina should address pervasive misinformation about the dispute, and communicate with their respective peoples in a more concerted way.
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