This week Serbia played a somewhat unexpected card, following a meeting in Brussels between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, with Vucic calling for Nato to “take over” and protect ethnic Serbs in in Kosovo and Metohija.
Tensions have ramped up and down all year, but Vucic has recently gone on the record stating that Serbia has watched Kosovo increasingly arm its military and police.
“We need cooperation with KFOR and NATO,” Vucic said, as cited by the Serbian website B92. Interestingly, he also referred to agreements signed circa 2013/2014, which noted that a Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) presence cannot be tolerated in North Kosovo.
While KLA fighters have not been noted per say, Vucic compared the militarizing and increased presence of Kosovo police to a KLA presence after a meeting with Stoltenberg on Wednesday. He also requested a stronger NATO/KFOR presence so that Serbs in Kosovo could lead a “normal life.”
The call for an increased KFOR presence is an interesting change of strategy for Serbia, as in the past Vucic has chosen to increase Serb troops on the border and threaten intervention. Meanwhile, the US and the EU have shown frustration with both the governments of Kosovo and Vucic, although recently pressure from both caused Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti to promise to reduce the Kosovo police presence in North Kosovo and also schedule new elections, following controversial elections that while ignored by Serbs resulted in the wildly unpopular election of ethnic-Albanian mayors in three towns.
Photo by Guelland/ MSC, CC BY 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.