Belgrade, Serbia – Over the years, since the carving out of the „independent“ Kosovo, the European Union is struggling to keep calm on its fringes with diplomatic efforts, while the US has put it on its global diplomacy back-burner.
The latest in provocations is the creation of Kosovo’s own 5,000-strong army. This step recently put United Nations Security Council’s heads together as the urgent session was called to discuss the move by Pristina that Serbia strongly opposes.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was quoted by the Voice of America (VOA) as pleased with the results of the UN Security Council session as Serbia had the chance “to inform international community about the situation in Kosovo.”
Earlier addressing the Security Council, Vucic noted that “Pristina did not fulfill anything” while Serbia fulfilled all the obligations from the Brussels Agreement. Highlighting for the countries including the US, who advocated for Kosovo’s independence, Vucic aptly asked them to look at “what they have created.”
Representatives of the US and the UK in the Security Council supported transformation of the Kosovo Security Force into an army, whereas Russia opposed it, describing the move as “a threat to peace”. China supported the Serbian stand and previously brought the Kosovo topic back on the UN Security Council’s agenda, after the three-month-long break in discussing Kosovo during UK, US and Bolivia rotating presidencies.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzya criticized the EU for not doing more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army to replace its lightly armed emergency response force. “The EU reaction to the decision by Pristina cannot be described as other than toothless. This irresponsible policy has crossed the line,” Nebenzya said, after the UNSC meeting.
While no great enthusiasm accompanied the army formation move by most of the Kosovo’s usual backers, NATO and the EU also voiced their unease. NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg called the decision “ill-timed” and lamented that Kosovo’s authorities had ignored “the concerns expressed by NATO.”
The European Union High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini also echoed those concerns, saying in a statement that the mandate of Kosovo’s forces “should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process” in accordance with the state’s constitution.
The United States, however openly applauded the controversial move, with its ambassador to Kosovo, Phillip Kosnett, saying that Washington “reaffirms its support” for the upgrade as it is “only natural for Kosovo as a sovereign, independent country” to have a full-fledged army.
Another noteworthy trend is the change of heart and withdrawing the recognition of the unilaterally proclaimed independence of Kosovo by nations across the globe. In a report, the media B92 confirmed, that recognition of Kosovo has been withdrawn by the Union of the Comoros – a small island state in the Indian Ocean that recognized Kosovo in 2009.
Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic announced the withdrawal during a joint news conference with the minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of the Union of the Comoros, Mohamed El-Amine Souef, saying, “that’s 10 votes.”
The report further listed that Kosovo’s recognition has been revoked by Grenada, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Suriname, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe, Guinea-Bissau, Burundi, Papua New Guinea, and Lesotho.
Kosovo Tax Increases
Moreover, the top Serbian diplomat spoke about the Pristina government decision to increase the tax on “imports of goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina by 10 percent”, which came only a day after Kosovo’s bid to join Interpol failed, marking the second top defeat of Kosovo’s diplomacy after its UNESCO membership bid failure in 2015.
“What are they reacting to? To Serbia’s position not to recognize Kosovo? We are not fighting against Kosovo, but for the basic principles of international law. No one recognizes unilateral acts, and so won’t Serbia,” Dacic said, referring to his country’s refusal to accept Kosovo Albanians’ unilateral declaration of independence made in 2008.
The European Union High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini also reacted to the Kosovo Government decision on taxing goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In a statement Mogherini said: Today’s decision of the Kosovo Government to increase the tax on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to 100% is a clear violation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and of the spirit of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Union and Kosovo. It further exacerbates the situation following the initial imposition of 10% tax increase last week. The Kosovo government has to immediately revoke these decisions.”
However, 40 days later, Kosovo not only does not have the intention to do that, but it also opened the border with Albania which Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama called in his New Year message as “just the beginning.”
With Kosovo making steady moves to destabilize the region, Serbia and partners are struggling to keep peace and continue diplomatic efforts through international platforms like the United Nations. Time for the US to rethink its Kosovo policy.