Serbia

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 »

Serbia es una sociedad dividida en la que, a juzgar por los resultados electorales de este domingo, una tercera parte de la población aboga —desesperadamente— por el cambio, con la mirada dirigida a Europa y apoyando las opciones políticas de la izquierda. Mientras, casi la mitad de la población prefiere seguir con un Gobierno de centroderecha que no oculta su orientación nacionalista y prorrusa. Los comicios están, sin embargo, lejos de poder considerarse claramente democráticos. Hay que leer el triunfo de Aleksandar Vucic —11 años en el poder— desde su casi total control de los medios de comunicación. Su figura y su discurso son omnipresentes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sede de la Asamblea Nacional de la República de Serbia. Foto: Jovan Markovic (CC BY 4.0 Deed)

El pasado 17 de diciembre Serbia celebró elecciones parlamentarias, autonómicas y locales –en 65 ciudades, incluida la capital, Belgrado–. Las elecciones eran anticipadas, las últimas se habían celebrado hace menos de dos años, en 2022. La oposición, unida en una coalición de nueve partidos –Serbia Contra la Violencia (Srbija Protiv Nasilja, o SPN)– lo había solicitado formalmente al gobierno presidido por Aleksandar Vučić en septiembre de 2023. La razón era, según SPN, que el gobierno no había cumplido con las exigencias de los ciudadanos, que se habían manifestado, durante meses, en contra del gobierno, a raíz de dos tragedias: asesinatos en masa en un colegio en el centro de Belgrado y en Mladenovac, una localidad en la periferia de la capital.…  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 »

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 »

Anti-gun demonstrators protest at the Tennessee capitol for stricter gun laws in Nashville on 3 April 2023. Photograph: John Amis/AFP/Getty Images

Last week, Serbia experienced two separate mass shootings that killed more than a dozen people, including children. Serbia, a nation tied for the third highest rate of gun ownership in the world, was shaken by this violence. Unlike here at home, mass shootings are not a daily occurrence.

It did not take long for the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vucic, to take swift action. A mere day after these senseless shootings, Vucic announced several measures that would prevent further tragedy. The measures include a ban on new gun permits, tougher penalties for illegal weapons possession, psychological checks of gun owners and an amnesty for the surrender of illegal weapons.…  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 »

¿Quiere Serbia ser miembro de la UE?

Tema

Sólo el tiempo dirá si Serbia y los serbios están a la altura de la oportunidad histórica que se les ha ofrecido de unirse a la familia de las democracias europeas.

Resumen

Serbia y su gobierno, presidido por Aleksandar Vučić desde el pasado 23 de octubre, se enfrentan a dos problemas fundamentales para avanzar hacia la integración en la UE. El primero es el rechazo de la población serbia, así como de su gobierno, a imponer sanciones a Rusia y de esta manera cumplir con la exigencia de que un país candidato debe coordinar su política exterior con la de la Unión.…  Seguir leyendo »

An anti-EU and anti-Nato mural in Belgrade, 2022. ‘Serbia has never renounced the Greater Serbia ideology that led to the wars of former Yugoslavia.’ Photograph: Andrej Isaković/AFP/ Getty

“Ukraine attacks Russia!” was the surreal headline on a report in the 22 February edition of Informer, Serbia’s biggest-selling tabloid. That headline was not a one off, it was an expression of the Putinophilia that has been strong in Serbia for years. As most of the world condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, much of the media in Serbia turned to glorification of Russia’s actions. Tabloids, web portals, dailies, weeklies and nationwide television channels celebrated the destruction of Ukrainian cities and gave wholehearted support to Russian armed forces. The killing of civilians, the levelling of cities and the destruction of cultural monuments appeared to fill some of Serbia’s editors with enthusiasm and exuberance.…  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 »

¿Cómo acabaron 3.700 millones de euros del dinero de los contribuyentes de la UE en manos de un autócrata balcánico que lo utilizó para construir una dictadura donde los activistas por la democracia se enfrentan a violentas amenazas?

El presidente serbio Aleksandar Vucic es un ultranacionalista de estilo trumpiano y el líder de un país en proceso de adhesión a la UE. Y tiene un historial violento: cuando era un joven diputado, fue una figura clave en el Partido Radical Serbio (SRS), dirigido por Vojislav Seselj, quien posteriormente fue acusado de crímenes de guerra en La Haya.

Durante el conflicto en Kosovo, Vucic ejerció como ministro de Información de Slobodan Milosevic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban leaves a polling station in Budapest after voting on April 3. Orban, a right-wing nationalist, was reelected. (Akos Stiller/Bloomberg)

When Russia launched its attack on Ukraine, a wide variety of commentators believed there was at least one silver lining in this catastrophic cloud. Vladimir Putin’s assault on the liberal order, they hoped, would expose and delegitimize the illiberal, populist forces that have been surging for years. One speculated that the war in Ukraine could end the age of populism. Another, the scholar Francis Fukuyama, saw it as an opportunity for people to finally reject right-wing nationalism. Alas, six weeks into this conflict, such notions look like wishful thinking.

In Europe, two pivotal elections — in Hungary and France — tell the tale.…  Seguir leyendo »

A boy wears Russian insignia on his hat as Bosnian Serb nationalists demonstrated in Banja Luka in support of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Photograph: Armin Durgut/AP

The recent European summit in Versailles missed a great opportunity: to launch, in a symbolic place, a new postwar order for Europe. We are not dreamers; we know that joining the European Union is no walk in the park and thatthe same procedures apply, in principle, to Ukraine as to the candidate countries in the Balkans. But there was an opportunity to establish a political union that would bridge the gap between a looser association and full membership. Instead, European leaders proceeded as if regular peacetime EU procedures are still appropriate in the extreme case of war in Europe. The freedom and peace project gave way to the EU of bureaucrats and officials.…  Seguir leyendo »

He appeasement of autocrats today only emboldens them tomorrow. Concessions to tyrants are never temporary, and they certainly never bring lasting peace.

The European continent is in crisis because Vladimir Putin has chipped away at Ukraine’s sovereignty to the extent that today he denies its territorial integrity and its right to exist. Russia’s president pursues a dangerous imperialist policy that permits one country to choose the fate of another simply because it has the military might.

This war is Mr Putin’s way of testing the democratic world and it is an attempt to break our democratic spirit. Instead the war has brought the democratic world together in a way not witnessed for decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin (left) with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Kremlin's Security Council, in Moscow on Dec. 3. (AP)

While the world’s attention is understandably focused on the Kremlin’s growing threats against Ukraine, a less-noticed political scandal brewing in the Balkans has served as a reminder that Vladimir Putin already has at least one client regime in Central Europe. Last week, Serbia’s independent media revealed that the country’s security agencies are effectively running errands for Russia’s Federal Security Service — and assisting the Kremlin in going after its political opponents.

Last May, a group of Russian municipal lawmakers and democracy activists attended an educational seminar in Belgrade. The meeting, co-chaired by prominent opposition leader Andrei Pivovarov and me, was intended as a (less eventful) sequel to our earlier conference in Moscow, at which all the participants were arrested.…  Seguir leyendo »

Europa contempló las guerras de la antigua Yugoslavia desde el estupor, la impotencia y cierta irresponsabilidad. Cuando terminaron surgió la necesidad de marcar un camino de integración europea para la región, a fin de anclarla en la estabilidad. Ya en el año 2000, se le ofreció, por vez primera, una “clara perspectiva europea”. En 2003 el “apoyo inequívoco” a dicha perspectiva. Y en 2018 “una perspectiva creíble de ampliación”. Si la reiteración abusiva del substantivo evoca la imagen difusa de una tierra atisbada, pero inalcanzable, los adjetivos empleados parecen admitir cierto fracaso en el empeño. Transcurridos 20 años desde el fin de las beligerancias, solo Croacia - Eslovenia nunca se consideró parte de la región – se ha incorporado a la UE.…  Seguir leyendo »