There are signs of relaxation in Kosovo

On the fringes of the European Political Community Summit in Moldova, European leaders mediated between Serbia and Kosovo. After the violent demonstrations, a possible way out of the initially muddled situation is emerging.

30 injured NATO soldiers and dozens of Serbian demonstrators, one of them is in mortal danger with gunshot wounds. That was the result of violent protests this week in four Serb-majority communities in northern Kosovo. NATO now wants to send an additional 700 soldiers to the youngest country in Europe. It was a precedent for NATO troops to be attacked on European soil, even if they only wanted to separate two hostile parties, in line with their protective mission in Kosovo.

Since the meeting of the 47 states of the European Political Community in Moldova on Thursday, there have been first signs of an easing of the situation in Kosovo, which is now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians. Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti wrote on Twitter on Thursday evening: “The withdrawal of violent mobs in front of the municipal offices (…) is the way to de-escalation until there are new elections.”

On the fringes of the summit in Moldova, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron held talks to ease the renewed escalation of the conflict in northern Kosovo. “We had intensive talks with Kosovo and Serbia,” said Scholz in the evening after a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani. He himself, but also Macron and the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell are trying very hard to de-escalate the tensions.

A repeat of the early local elections, as Albin Kurti suggested on Twitter, in which Serbs would also participate, would be a possible solution. Meanwhile, Albanian mayors should remotely manage Serb-majority communities.

Already at the beginning of the week, the allegations from Brussels and Washington towards Serbia were cautious, although Serbian demonstrators had injured the soldiers of the KFOR protection force. It is widely believed that the Serbs living in Kosovo, who do not recognize the country they live in and who listen to the Serbian government, are not solely to blame for the riots.

The latest escalation was also a late consequence of snap municipal elections held on April 23. Serbs boycotted these elections, which were called because they had left all Kosovar institutions in protest. Again, the reason was that the government in Pristina wanted to force them to re-register their Serbian-registered cars in Kosovo and replace their Serbian license plates with Kosovar ones that say “Republic of Kosovo”. It’s about state symbols, about a relentless fight for national symbols.

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2023-06-02 17:45:00