Balkans: “Serbia wants to annex the north of Kosovo” | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

WELT: Madam President, you name the assaults that occurred in northern Kosovo at the finish of September an tried annexation. Can you clarify that? Who precisely wants to annex what there?

Vjosa Osmani: Serbia has been planning to annex northern Kosovo for a while. According to precisely the script that Russian President Vladimir Putin utilized in Crimea. With its propaganda, Belgrade is inciting the Serbian neighborhood in Kosovo. Meanwhile, terrorist teams had been skilled on Serbian army bases. Heavy weapons and “green men” – paramilitaries in uniforms with out insignia – had been smuggled into northern Kosovo by way of unlawful routes. We analyzed maps, drone footage, the attackers’ weapons and the telephones they left behind as they fled. From this it’s clear that on September 24, the attackers needed to create details in 37 places concurrently in a hybrid operation to occupy the north of our nation.

additionally learn

A police officer patrols the road to Banjska Monastery

WELT: In your opinion, had been the males performing on direct orders from the Serbian authorities?

Osmani: Absolutely. Without the Serbian state equipment, they’d by no means have had entry to the army weapons we confiscated. The males had been skilled at Serbian army bases beneath the coordination of the Serbian Defense Minister. In addition, in accordance to the US authorities, Serbia has elevated the presence of its armed forces on the border with Kosovo to an unprecedented extent. This exhibits that the Serbs are aiming for additional escalation. And that their aim continues to be to conquer elements of Kosovo.

“Russia wants to open a new front against the West”

Tensions are rising in the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo. The government of Kosovo accuses Serbia of advancing its military to the border. The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, speaks in an exclusive interview with WELT about current developments and the role of Russia.

WELT: The Serbian government says the country has withdrawn its troops and reduced them to normal levels.

Osmani: This is not yet certain; we are waiting for final confirmation from our Western partners. And even if it does, we have to be prepared for all scenarios. Serbia must be held accountable for its actions. If the act of aggression has no consequences, this is a sign of encouragement for Serbia to escalate again and again. And on a much larger scale than the attack that we have now prevented.

Special units of the Kosovo police are securing the area in the north of Kosovo, just a few kilometers from Serbia

Special units of the Kosovo police are securing the area in the north of Kosovo, just a few kilometers from Serbia

What: AFP

WELT: Serbia has recently improved its relations with the US and the EU and has no interest in confrontation with NATO. Why should Belgrade risk all this?

Osmani: This is a question you would ask rational people. But we don’t expect any rationality from the Serbian leadership. I remind you that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was once propaganda minister under Slobodan Milosevic. And today he says things like, “You can kill us all. We will never recognize Kosovo’s independence.” This is a wake-up name for everybody who believed that Vucic might convey peace. Someone who condones genocide can’t be a peacemaker. Serbia wants a Willy Brandt. Someone who is prepared to admit the crimes, who will kneel earlier than the memorials of the victims and apologize.

additionally learn

Pro-Russian demonstrators in Belgrade

WELT: Vucic accuses your authorities of not doing sufficient to defend the Serb minority in Kosovo. He says, for instance, that the Serbian inhabitants in the north has shrunk by ten p.c in contrast to two years in the past.

Osmani: This is the similar rhetoric that Milosevic used to justify his wars in the former Yugoslavia in the Nineteen Nineties; the similar language Putin used to justify his full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The authorities of Kosovo doesn’t discriminate in opposition to its residents based mostly on their origin. The actuality is that persons are leaving their house international locations throughout the Western Balkans – together with Serbia. It’s not a query of ethnicity, however of economics. People discover higher paying jobs elsewhere. Therefore, as a authorities, we should work to create prosperity for our residents. We should not fall into Vucic’s propaganda entice and permit a false steadiness to prevail. Because in the occasions in Kosovo there’s a clear aggressor and a transparent sufferer.

“There can be no talk of relaxation at all”

The initiator of the newest assault by Serbian paramilitaries on Kosovo law enforcement officials, Milan Radoicic, has been quickly arrested. Days earlier, Radoicic had publicly admitted to being the perpetrator of the acts of violence. WELT editor Carolina Drüten classifies the scenario.

Source: WELT/Carolina Drüten

WELT: Did the US fall into the entice of false steadiness when it imposed sanctions on Kosovo in May as a result of your authorities allegedly didn’t sufficiently contribute to de-escalation?

Osmani: This was an episode of misunderstanding that we had with our worldwide companions and that we efficiently overcome. Today we stand in full unison to cease Serbia’s destabilizing habits.

WELT: What position does Russia play?

Osmani: Russia wants to open a brand new entrance in opposition to the West in order that the West’s consideration is unfold throughout a number of conflicts as a substitute of targeted on Ukraine, the place it rightly lies at the second. Moscow can also be interested by new escalations in the Western Balkans as a result of it wants to unsettle the values-based programs of the EU and NATO. And Vucic, Putin’s finest pal, helps him. Conversely, Russia has supported Serbia politically, militarily and economically in recent times.

additionally learn

MOSCOW REGION, RUSSIA - JUNE 23, 2020: Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin during a meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence. Mikhail Klimentyev/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS

WELT: What are you demanding from the West and particularly from Germany in the present scenario?

Osmani: One is safety ensures. The border between Kosovo and Serbia should be secured to forestall any smuggling of army items. For this we’d like the help of NATO, of course in cooperation with our police forces. On the different hand, Serbia should be held accountable, and Germany can assist with that. It is certainly tough to obtain the vital unanimity for measures at EU degree. But the federal authorities has a quantity of instruments at its disposal to ship a transparent message to Serbia on a bilateral degree, for instance by means of sanctions.

WELT: You your self come from the north of Kosovo and skilled the warfare as an adolescent. From your private expertise, what worries you about the present scenario?

Osmani: I used to be born in Mitrovica (metropolis in northern Kosovo, editor’s notice). Today, younger kids in Kosovo are waking up with the similar fear that accompanied us as kids in the early Nineteen Nineties. And that is as a result of there are politicians in energy in Serbia who need to take the area again into the previous. We need the reverse. We don’t need the new technology to have to undergo what we skilled in our childhood. I sincerely hope that we’ve got the help of our allies and companions to guarantee this and to defend what we’ve got achieved.