Good and bad in the Balkans: Serbia gets more EC funds; NATO, US unhappy with normalization process, but say Kosovo has not „reciprocated”

Sometimes in the Balkans the good comes with the bad, and this seemed to be the case Wednesday with the announcement that the European Commission had allocated EUR 2.1 bln for the region which includes money for infrastructure for the rebuilding of hydro-electric power plants in Serbia.

This continuation of funds for the Western Balkans was a reassuring shot in the arm, with European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi stating that the new investment package is a “clear message to our partners from the Western Balkans that their future is within the EU.”

The EUR 2.1 bln includes EUR IPA III grants, various loans and also monies from individual EU states.

As mentioned by Varhelyi, the investment package was clearly a reminder of what the EU has to offer, and his comment seemed a thinly veiled reference to tensions primarily between Serbia and Kosovo. This also came at a time when NATO representatives have stated that they see no sign of de-escalation or a reduction in tensions on the ground, and also when US senators voiced concern to US president Joe Biden, stating that Pristina has ignored calls to de-escalate.

The call from the group of senators, who included U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and  Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), as well as  U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was direct, stating that “we write to express our sincere concern regarding the deteriorating situation in the north of Kosovo, where recent Serb violence against NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) in northern Kosovo injured nearly 40 NATO peacekeepers.

The senators added that efforts by the US administration to push both sides toward de-escalation were appreciated, but that Kosovo was not responding.

“We appreciate U.S. diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis, but these efforts have not been reciprocated by Kosovo in particular,” said the statement.

Photo of Sen. Chris van Holland by Senate Democrats, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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