Although Vucic did state that Serbia is open to “compromise,” considering recent tension with Kosovo, he also emphasized his stance with a “no surrender, long live Serbia” post that likely did not smooth the feathers of the EU.
Both the United States and the EU have pushed hard for a resolution to constant head-butting, especially with regard to border and ID issues, but although Kosovo and Serbia did recently come to terms with regard to a softening of Kosovo’s stance on new Kosovo IDs and license plates for the Serbian minority there, new Kosovo patrols on the border, as well as Serbian military maneuvers—ostensibly as a show of strength—have been indicative.
The tit-for-tat—which has been a constant since the end of the Kosovo conflict and the stationing of NATO troops within that state’s borders—has drawn US attention, with the Joe Biden administration clearly anxious to reduce tensions in order to focus efforts on Ukraine. Likewise, the EU, which is facing both an energy and inflation crisis, due to the war, recently appointed Emanuel Bonne and Jens Plettner to aid Miroslav Lajcak in lobbying for further dialogue.
These EU representatives have already spent time in Pristina and Belgrade, and it is clear that the sides have also put pressure on Kosovo, but of late this seems to little avail. In truth, the politics of both states have become somewhat hard to define, with the Albanian-led Kosovo highly dependent on US aid, and Serbia’s Vucic having repeatedly stated that he would like to see Serbia eventually join the EU—although with caveats that include good relations with Russia.
But even here, a micro-shot of recent press developments likely have observers flustered if not confused. In recent weeks Serbia has 1) lamented its complete dependence on Russian gas 2) pledged to mutually work with other Balkan states to avert energy and food shortages—while also clearly angling for EU aid in these matters 3) convicted a Serbian mercenary who fought for Russia in Ukraine (while also sending him to serve one-year in prison) 4) noted in a televised address that not only the EU and the US, but also Turkey has pushed hard for Serbia to recognize Kosovo (with Vucic being arguably somewhat sarcastic during this address—and this following a meeting with Turkish President Recep Erdogan in which the pair had seemed almost inseparable 5) Vucic added that Serbia will not “tolerate” attempts to force Kosovo independence upon Serbia, but instead will relay upon international law and the UN, and finally 6) Hungary and Serbia have appeared to work toward closer ties, despite this fact likely once again rankling the remainder of the EU
The Hungarian relationship is in fact highly interesting in that both countries—which arguably face a better short-term energy scenario than the majority of countries in the EU—noted energy issues and the likelihood that the war in Ukraine will not be over soon.
True, the Ukrainians may have something to say about that, but in the meantime Vucic continues to walk a political tightrope.
And for how long and to what final purpose? Apart from the repeated statement that indepence for Kosovo is off the table…
It is quite difficult to say.
Photo credit: File photo courtesy of the original uploader, Wikiwind at Serbian Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 RS <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/rs/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.