What’s going on in Kosovo?
Amid rising tensions in Kosovo, Nato is boosting its KFOR peacekeeping force which has been stationed there since 1999. Violence flared in the country after local elections held a month ago which were boycotted by a majority of the ethnic Serbs in the north, resulting in Kosovo Albanians being elected as mayors on very few votes. Europe’s press doubts that Nato’s move will calm the situation.
Constantly expecting a storm
The situation will not improve for people living in the country any time soon, comments Delo:
“People go to bed with their suitcases packed. ... They realised a long time ago that their lives are just a cheap chip in the geopolitical monopoly played by influential people somewhere far away. ... It doesn’t matter whether they’re majority Albanians, members of the Bosnian minority or Serbs, they don’t lead a peaceful life like we enjoy in the EU. ... Members of the Nato peacekeeping force KFOR are taking care of the situation, which is not getting worse but unfortunately not getting better either. And every time the authorities in Belgrade face a serious challenge, the Serbs in northern Kosovo are made to feel the consequences.”
Status quo untenable in the long term
Europe has been too quick to put this conflict behind it, laments La Stampa:
“Wars marked by ethnic strife and a desire for revenge are never in a hurry to be consigned to the past. We, on the other hand, like to forget ‘the details’ — or at least what we would like to think of as such. We’re in a hurry to move on to the next item on the agenda. Could it be that Kosovo was not a successful Nato operation? Does the alliance have nothing more better to do than get involved in petty Balkan squabbles? ... Maintaining the status quo, freezing sectarian resentments and vendettas: that is the course we have taken in this complicated and troubled part of the world. But unfortunately, the effectiveness of this approach is diminishing as time passes.”
A desperate situation
The Frankfurter Rundschau stresses that many parties share the blame for the unresolved conflict between Serbia and Kosovo:
“The power-hungry politicians in these countries, who skilfully promote resentment in order to serve their own interests. A disunited EU, a community of states that vacillates between hesitancy and naive credulity. And last but not least Russia, which wants to secure its own spheres of influence and profits from unrest in Europe. This is a combination that can drive one to despair because it obstructs so many possibilities. And because it could easily become dangerous.”
Kurti must display more finesse
The Kosovar prime minister should show more flexibility in asserting the rights of Kosovars, Večernji list admonishes:
“Kurti and his government have reason to be dissatisfied over the Western partners yielding to Vučić. But precisely because of this, Kurti must be cleverer and not convey the impression that he, as Kosovo’s prime minister, is a bigger problem than Vučić. Or that Priština is providing a justification for an escalation of violence while Belgrade is apparently behaving constructively. Kosovo has long been warned about this trap, but this is now a highly dangerous situation in which Kurti’s stubbornness could be very damaging for the peace and stability of the entire Western Balkans.”