Analysts assessed the weekend attack in Kosovo as an event that displaces the dispute between Kosovo and Serbia from the dialogue facilitated by the international community for normalization between the two countries in urgent security issues, but also that ends the thoughts in Serbia that force can be achieved any results in Kosovo. Analysts in Belgrade estimate that the attack by the Serbian armed group in Kosovo was not unexpected, but a forewarned event, which is expected to change the parameters of the negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia, creating a completely new reality between the two countries.
“It will be very difficult to manage two things, firstly, the chauvinist, ethno-nationalist reaction about the loss of control of the territory in the northern part of Kosovo, which has actually happened… At this moment, the focus is on security and this is not it’s a bad thing, because finally people will understand that the solution doesn’t come with conflicts, with violence, and they have to accept that. I am convinced that the majority of people living in Belgrade accept the reality – the reality that nothing can be achieved by force in Kosovo,” declared Dushan Janjic, chairman of the Forum for Inter-Ethnic Relations.
Analyst Maja Piscevic from the Washington-based Atlantic Council says the public in Serbia is aware that, as she put it, “something terrible has happened.”
“There are so many questions. Was this an earthquake? Was this a warning, or a preparation of the ground? Because we all predicted it and warned the international community that it would happen. And now when it happened, we were all surprised, because maybe we hoped it wouldn’t happen. My assessment is that this is a tragic episode for Serbs and Albanians, a consequence of lost opportunities, lack of political courage, political ingenuity and responsibility. And in that sense, it was inevitable that something like this would happen,” Ms. Piscevic said.
According to Mr. Janjic, there are more and more arguments that this was an “escalation of the use of violence for political purposes” but that the impression that this was done by criminal elements no longer holds. He says that it is already clear that “KFOR, EULEX and Kosovo Police have cooperated professionally and that Belgrade is also involved in sheltering people in Serbia who have not been arrested and who are not in hospitals, in Pristina.” According to him, Belgrade is now forced to investigate and share information about all those involved.
“We have come to this point – the priority is the discussion, the agreement with Kosovo, with Pristina, not for the association of municipalities, not for the state. Now it is about security, which means the demilitarization of the paramilitaries,” declared Mr. Janjic.
According to him, Serbian President Vucic has already accepted responsibility “when he defined the whole process as a protest of people, citizens and not criminals”.
“It does not occur to me that there will be further organized escalation in Kosovo. If Belgrade wanted to do something, it is now clear that it cannot do such a thing in Kosovo. Maybe he can do it in Bosnia, but in Kosovo, this hotbed is now protected by the EU, NATO and the American presence,” he emphasized.
Ms Pescevic says an investigation into the events is necessary to determine what happened. However, according to her, one thing is clear.
“It is already a fact that the Serbian community is finally radicalized and does not trust the institutions of Kosovo. Something has to happen. Something neutral to separate the two sides. This is a security crisis anyway. And you cannot have a political solution without solving the security crisis. And this issue has priority now,” said Ms. Piscevic.
But apart from the immediate consequences in the relations between Kosovo and Serbia, analysts predict that the armed attack by the Serbian group in the northern part of Kosovo against the Kosovo police goes beyond the contradictions between Kosovo and Serbia, having implications for the United States and the rest of the the international community, but also for the region.
According to Mr. Janjic, Russia may have been involved in what happened. He says it is important for the European Union and the United States to speak “with one voice on all important issues.” But, according to him, it is the United States that should now be put in charge of the processes.
“America should lead for one reason only, America is simply leading the Western security bloc to guarantee peace in Europe and outside Europe. Second, Russia – and time will prove that Russia is involved with (Milan) Radojcic and others in this incident – Russia is trying to show that America is not the only guarantor of peace, that it is not a reliable guarantor of it. and I consider that it is extremely important that America takes the leading role in this security issue,” declared Mr. Janjic.
But according to Mr Janjic, Moscow is already targeting other players and targets.
“Belgrade must change its policy. Vucic’s official Belgrade will not be supported much by Moscow. The last chance is the (UN) Security Council. Moscow is already settling accounts with new people in Belgrade, in Serbia and doing some kind of trade. Kosovo is not the main target or point of Russian interest. It is an important point to fight and fight with NATO and spread it throughout Europe. It’s a very important lesson that was learned,” he said.
While the analyst Piscevic says that although the role of external factors cannot be excluded from Sunday’s attack, considering that the unstable situation that has existed for a while in the Balkans has created a tempting ground for actors who are invested in a region of destabilized.
“It is a favorable ground for those who are interested in a destabilized Balkans, to support such a thing. But I can’t say if they are directly engaged, if so, let’s talk about Russia. But it makes sense that they are not unhappy with what is happening in the north these days,” she said.
Analysts cannot predict what developments can be expected, but they emphasize that only an increased presence of international presence and attention towards Kosovo and Serbia can provide a way out of this situation.
“This was a big shock. Will it be followed by another incident? Honestly, I have a hard time imagining that this course of events can stop on its own, without the international community and without increasing the presence and readiness of KFOR in this part of Kosovo,” says Mrs. Piscevic.
Meanwhile, Mr. Janjic says that although he does not see further escalation in Kosovo, these developments represent a new moment.
“A completely new reality has been created. There was a high risk that it would trigger a new armed conflict. Now I am sure that there will be no armed activities. It is a moment for politicians on both sides to seize this moment. The solution before them is not how to proceed with security management; but how to proceed with the stabilization of peace. This has completely changed the direction and I am not sure if Vucic will go all the way. For now, he has to accept that,” he says.
“People in Serbia are very afraid of a new war, they are not for it, but what will happen in the future, I cannot say now. The only area where insecurity is now transferred is in Bosnia,” concluded Mr. Janjic.