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.


CrisisWatch Kosovo

Unchanged Situation

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.

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In The News

15 2月 2023
There’s just zero trust [between Kosovo and Serbia] and active hostility on both sides. Gzero

Marko Prelec

Consulting Senior Analyst, Balkans

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