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.
Kosovo French and German leaders urged compromise over normalisation with Serbia, tensions over license plate dispute persisted.
Diplomatic efforts to sustain Belgrade-Pristina dialogue continued. After govt reached agreement with Serbia late Aug allowing border crossings with existing ID cards, French President Macron and German Chancellor Scholz 4 Sept asked PM Albin Kurti and Serbian President Vučić to prepare for compromise in Serb-Kosovar normalisation. In positive development, Kosovar deputy PM and education minister 5 Sept visited southern Serbia, while Serbian PM Ana Brnabic 6 Sept visited northern Kosovo with message of “peace, stability and tolerance”.
Tensions over license plate dispute persisted. Amid govt’s 31 Oct deadline for switch of all Serbia-registered vehicles to temporary Republic of Kosovo plates, assailants 20 Sept set fire to Kosovo Serb police officer’s car for displaying Kosovo-issued license plates. Interior Minister Xhelal Sveçla same day blamed “illegal structures”, allegedly supported by Vučić, for attacks and accused Vučić of trying “to intimidate Serb citizens living in Kosovo”. NATO Mission in Kosovo 22 Sept announced arrival of reserve troops “as part of normal contingency planning” amid heightened concerns as deadline nears, added that “other reserves” could arrive if required.
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.
Thirteen years after Kosovo broke away from Serbia, the two countries remain mired in mutual non-recognition, with deleterious effects on both. The parties need to move past technicalities to tackle the main issues at stake: Pristina’s independence and Belgrade’s influence over Kosovo’s Serbian minority.
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.
Political instability keeps growing in the Western Balkans amid geopolitical contests and increased tensions with Russia. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – First Update early-warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to engage intensively to ensure the political space for avoiding more serious crisis does nto entirely vanish in the Western Balkans.
The Balkans was best known for minority problems. Today, the most bitter conflicts are between parties that appeal to majority ethnic communities. As recent turbulence in Macedonia shows, Eastern Europe could face new dangers if majority populism ends the current stigma against separatism for oppressed small groups.