Kosovo

Kosovo riot police and KFOR military police secure access to a municipal building in Zvecan. Kosovo Serbs gather outside after police helped install ethnic Albanian mayors following controversial elections. May 29, 2023. AFP

Since taking office in 2021, the government of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti has been turning up the heat on the four northern municipalities where ethnic Serbs are in the majority. Kosovo’s refusal to grant greater autonomy to its ethnic Serbian population has been one of the two primary issues that keeps it at odds with neighbouring Serbia, from which it formally declared independence in 2008. The other is Serbia’s refusal to recognise Kosovo’s status as an independent state, which is essential to unlocking membership for the latter in international organisations like the European Union and UN.

As these disputes have lingered without resolution, Serbia and Kosovo have exercised a form of overlapping sovereignty in the north – with Serbia supplying education and health care to the residents, and Kosovo in charge of law enforcement and the courts – but Kurti has clearly lost patience with that arrangement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Carrying the coffin of a police officer killed in shootout, near Vushtrri, Kosovo, September 2023. Florion Goga / Reuters

In late September, Serbia deployed advanced weapons to its border with Kosovo, in what amounted to one of the largest Serbian military buildups since the end of the Kosovo war nearly a quarter century ago. In the United States, a spokesman for the National Security Council called it “an unprecedented staging of advanced Serbian artillery, tanks, and mechanized infantry units”. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to demand an “immediate de-escalation”.

Although the buildup was largely overlooked by Western media at the time—and has since been forgotten amid the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas—it is part of an alarming development in the Balkans.…  Seguir leyendo »

Italian soldiers serving in a NATO-led international peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (KFOR) patrol near a road barricade set up in the divided town of Mitrovica on Dec. 29, 2022. Stringer/AFP via Getty Images

The frozen conflict between Serbia and Kosovo has come dangerously close to heating up again in recent weeks. First, an armed standoff between Serb gunmen and Kosovo authorities in the north of the country left three assailants and one police officer dead. Then, just a few days later, the White House warned of an unprecedented buildup of Serbian troops along the border with Kosovo, raising concerns that war might be about to return to the Balkans.

Washington vaguely warned Belgrade that it could face possible punitive measures if it didn’t withdraw its forces. Fortunately, the response was immediate and Serbia’s often stubborn president, Aleksandar Vucic, wasted no time in pulling back his military.…  Seguir leyendo »

The killing last weekend of a Kosovo police officer by a group of 30 or more heavily armed Serbian nationalist militants marks the most significant security incident in that country, and the western Balkans region, in more than a decade. The US ambassador to Pristina, Jeffrey M Hovenier, described the attack subsequently: “We know it was coordinated and sophisticated … The quantity of weapons suggests this was serious, with a plan to destabilise security in the region”.

Kosovo’s authorities concur and are even more explicit in who they blame. Namely, Serbia’s government, and its strongman president, Aleksandar Vučić.

In the hours after the day-long skirmishes between the militants and police, in which three attackers were reported to have been killed, the office of Kosovo’s prime minister, Albin Kurti, posted photographs of the large cache of seized weapons and munitions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldados de las fuerzas internacionales de paz para Kosovo (KFOR) vigilaban el Ayuntamiento de Zvecan el pasado 30 de mayo.GEORGI LICOVSKI (EFE)

Todo el mundo —Washington y Pekín, Bruselas y Moscú, Belgrado y Tirana – está en contra del Gobierno de Kosovo. Es probablemente la única cuestión en la que todos ellos coinciden. Que Serbia, Rusia y China se alineen en contra no es ninguna novedad. Y Albania se ha vuelto en contra del Gobierno de Pristina porque Estados Unidos y la UE lo han hecho —según una anécdota, cuando el secretario de Exteriores británico, Robin Cook, preguntó a su homólogo albanés cuál era la estrategia de su país en la región, este lo contestó: “Nuestra estrategia es estar de acuerdo con la vuestra”).…  Seguir leyendo »

Monumento Newborn en Pristina, repintado con banderas de los países que han reconocido la independencia de Kosovo. Foto: Arild Vågen (Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0)

Tema

Se analiza el acercamiento de Washington a Serbia en el contexto de la agresión rusa a Ucrania y la agenda nacionalista del actual gobierno de Kosovo.

Resumen

Las políticas de seguridad y estabilidad han marcado los intereses de la UE y de EEUU hacia los Balcanes occidentales, que, con la parálisis de la ampliación, ha visto incrementada la presencia de potencias internacionales como China y Rusia. El inicio de la agresión de Rusia a Ucrania ha cambiado los parámetros de seguridad de la zona y Serbia, en el marco de sus ambivalencias ideológicas, entre Washington y Moscú, pese a su involución autocrática, se ha elevado como un actor clave para estabilizar la influencia de Putin en el mundo rusófilo balcánico, al mismo tiempo que ha comenzado a oscilar en favor de los intereses occidentales.…  Seguir leyendo »

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Kosovo President Vjosa Osman and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti at the State Department in Washington, DC, on July 26, 2022.

If anyone can understand the ugly, unnecessary standoff between the United States and Kosovo, it is Volodymyr Zelensky. Ask the Ukrainian president to grant ethnic Russians autonomy, and Zelensky will immediately ask three questions: Will the Russian speakers accept that they live in Ukraine, not Russia? Will Russia recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity? And will the grant of autonomy finally allow us to join NATO?

The inability of the United States and European Union to answer these same questions, as applied to Kosovo and Serbia, is at the root of the self-destructive Western power struggle with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hace poco más de un mes Kosovo celebraba los 15 años de su declaración de independencia. Habían transcurrido entonces nueve años desde el final de una guerra en la que perdieron la vida más de 13.000 personas y que finalizó tras los bombardeos de la OTAN sobre Serbia. Desde ese mes de febrero de 2008 y hasta ahora el principal objetivo de las autoridades de Pristina ha sido conseguir su reconocimiento como Estado, un reconocimiento que le permitiría, en primer lugar, alcanzar un asiento en Naciones Unidas, pero también comenzar su camino de integración hacia la Unión Europea y la OTAN.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man passes by graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, reading: “Kosovo is Serbia” in Belgrade, Serbia, on Aug. 1. (Darko Vojinovic/AP)

Even as fighting rages on in Ukraine, a less obvious struggle is taking place between Russia and the West elsewhere on the European Union’s periphery. With war draining its resources, Moscow has been less able to project power beyond its borders — and Western powers are moving to take advantage of the vacuum.

That’s what’s happening right now in the Western Balkans, where last month there were visible signs of progress in efforts to settle a long-standing dispute between Serbia and Kosovo. Kosovo’s prime minister, Albin Kurti, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met in Brussels and agreed in principle to a normalization proposal between the two countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los acontecimientos que se han vivido en las fronteras entre Serbia y Kosovo se enmarcan en el contexto del proceso de independencia kosovar. Tras la pérdida de control de Kosovo por parte de Serbia, Belgrado continúo operando un sistema estatal paralelo al que progresivamente fue desplegando Pristina, que incluye departamentos de policía, tribunales y oficinas municipales situadas en las ciudades de la mayoría serbia del norte de Kosovo. Esto también incluía la emisión de matrículas de vehículos serbios para las ciudades de Kosovo. Tras llegar a diferentes acuerdos entre las partes se llegó a un acuerdo en 2011 sobre la emisión de las placas que sería prorrogado en 2016.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russia’s war on Ukraine is forcing all European countries to reconsider their strategic and military relationships. For Kosovo, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression confirms the belief that it needs a more robust partnership with the United States and its allies.

Last month, on the day that Sweden and Finland simultaneously submitted their requests to join NATO, Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti was in Washington to make his case for increased cooperation.

For a country of fewer than 2 million inhabitants that declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, the stakes couldn’t be higher. With 48 Serbian military installations staring across Kosovo’s borders, according to Kurti, it’s little wonder that he sees the fate of his country as a defining front in the ideological confrontation of our times.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bandera de Eslovenia. Foto Juliet Earth

Tema

¿Cuál es el futuro de la ampliación de la UE en los Balcanes Occidentales?

Resumen

El proceso de adhesión a la UE de los Balcanes Occidentales está atascado por la “fatiga de la ampliación”, por la “fatiga balcánica” (desilusión) y por la presencia de Rusia y de China, que cada día cobran mayor influencia en la región. La asunción de la Presidencia europea por Eslovenia podría ser una oportunidad para reinventar el proceso de adhesión, sin renunciar a la estrategia de “palo y zanahoria”, pero incluyendo mayores incentivos a los países balcánicos.

Análisis Introducción: la fatiga europea

El próximo 1 de julio Portugal cederá la Presidencia de la UE a Eslovenia, que la ejercerá por segunda vez desde su adhesión a la Unión en 2004.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kosovo’s former president Hashim Thaci stepped down this month to face war crimes charges in The Hague. Thaci, a former high-ranking member of the Kosovo Liberation Army that fought against Serbia in the 1990s, was indicted by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (KSC & SPO), an unusual criminal court with a unique institutional setup.

Established through a constitutional amendment and parliamentary legislation, the KSC & SPO is part of Kosovo’s domestic court system. At the same time, it is heavily internationalized. Created in conjunction with the European Union and based in the Netherlands, the court is staffed by international judges and prosecutors and applies both Kosovar laws and international customary and human rights law when making its decisions.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC), approved by the Kosovo Parliament in 2015, are touted as a new and more promising attempt at delivering justice for unpunished war crimes. A series of previous courts – the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) panels, local courts and the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) – have tried, but largely failed to bring perpetrators of war crimes to trial. The promise of the KSC to correct previous failures stands in their attributes as a hybrid court. Part of the Kosovo judiciary, but situated in the Hague and constituted of international judges only, the Chambers represent a new type of hybrid court that is supposed to combine the strength of international tribunals with the benefits of local ownership.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kosovo Albanians block roads on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s planned route to the village of Banje on Sept. 9. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

My country, Kosovo, is being asked to make an impossible choice that would cheapen the sacrifice made by U.S. soldiers, undermine the stability of the region and threaten America’s allies. In the face of sustained attack from Serbia meant to undermine our sovereignty, security and prosperity, there are some who would like Kosovo to engage in so-called “peaceful” ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. This is a shortsighted attempt to give in to a bully in the hope that the bullying will stop. We will not do this — we will instead stand up against those who would seek to take advantage of us, while simultaneously working toward a long-lasting and comprehensive peace.…  Seguir leyendo »

Para estados jóvenes sin reconocimiento universal como Kosovo, participar en organizaciones, conferencias o competiciones deportivas internacionales mostrando al mundo sus enseñas nacionales es vital para su consolidación como actores soberanos. Aunque oficialmente el olimpismo pretenda "hacer un mundo mejor y más pacífico educando a los jóvenes con el deporte sin discriminación de ningún tipo en un espíritu de amistad y juego limpio", siempre ha sido la pasarela ideal para exhibir orgullo nacional y patriotismo, con frecuencia incompatibles con la proclamada solidaridad sin fronteras.

Sin llegar al extremo de George Orwell, que veía en el deporte internacional "guerras sin tiros", la obsesión por conquistar medallas y enarbolar banderas lo aproxima mucho al mundo bélico por la obsesiva búsqueda de unidad contra el enemigo hasta la victoria.…  Seguir leyendo »

En esta misma página publiqué el 13 de septiembre de 2007 un articulo titulado «El error Kosovo» en el que analizaba el proceso que había de culminar en la independencia del que había sido territorio integrante de la República Federal de Yugoslavia, y luego de Serbia, antes y después de la disolución del conjunto de Yugoslavia. En él reflejaba las consecuencias de la intervención militar de la OTAN que desde el 23 de Marzo del 99 hasta el 10 de Junio del mismo año había actuado en contra de la política de limpieza étnica practicada contra los albaneses en el territorio y lanzada contra el todavía líder serbio Slobodan Milosevic y recordaba que habiendo sido ese el motivo de la intervención, llevada a cabo sin autorización del Consejo de Seguridad, este mismo organismo, en su Resolución 1244 había establecido la obligación de respetar la integridad territorial y la independencia política de la República Federativa de Yugoslavia al intentar resolver el conflicto de Kosovo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children ride bicycles next to a wall painted with the European Union flag last month in the southern Serbian town of Presevo. (Armend Nimani/AFP/Getty Images)

Serbia and Kosovo have been talking about a grand bargain to defuse lingering ethnic conflicts. Critics have been quick to weigh in. Some argue that the risks are simply too substantial for the international community to entertain the idea of “border adjustments,” or territorial exchanges, involving Serb-populated territories in northern Kosovo and Albanian-populated territories in southern Serbia, which is being subtly pushed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovar counterpart, Hashim Thaci.

The crux of the critics’ argument rests on the potential for spillover throughout the Balkans. If Belgrade and Pristina exchange territory, this will show Croats and Serbs in Bosnia that they, too, can find a way to secede and join their ethnic kin in Croatia and Serbia, breaking up Bosnia in the process.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man sits at a roadblock in Vojtesh, Kosovo, on Sept. 9. (Visar Kryeziu/AP)

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are planning to swap territory. They say it will ease ethnic tensions and contribute to stability in the western Balkans. Some commentators and politicians think it is a great idea.

Don’t bet on it. The proposals present enormous risks — not only for the countries themselves but also for the broader region. Indeed, they could set an ominous precedent for leaders who harbor separatist ambitions.

What Kosovo President Hashim Thaci refers to as a “border adjustment” could easily prompt nationalists in this part of Europe to demand similar changes. It could offer destructive inspiration to Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Macedonia, where nationalist movements and some of the leaders yearn to have their own ethnically homogeneous countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

1. Una ventana de oportunidad

Veinte años después del final de la guerra, cuarenta años después del comienzo del conflicto, serbios y albaneses kosovares están por fin negociando. Y parece que esta vez las negociaciones van por buena vía y que existen esperanzas fundadas de que las partes lleguen a un acuerdo basado en el reconocimiento serbio de la independencia de Kósovo, acompañado, quizá, por una corrección de fronteras en busca la máxima homogeneidad étnica de los dos estados.

Y no es tan raro como a primera vista parece. Hay, desde luego, conflictos que terminan con la victoria total de una parte y el aplastamiento de la otra, pero es mucho más frecuente que los conflictos concluyan con algún tipo de negociación.…  Seguir leyendo »