Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic gave an “emergency” address to his nation Sunday afternoon, claiming without evidence that Kosovo would attack Serbia at midnight.
Serbian President Vučić speaking on Kosovo tonight:
“We we will ask for peace, but I’ll tell you right away: there will be no surrender and Serbia will win. Serbia will triumph if they start to murder Serbs or bully Serbs. pic.twitter.com/dgeJmcyteQ
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) July 31, 2022
You can get a better idea of the stakes by reading the rest of this speech.
“The situation for our people in Kosovo and Metohija is very complicated and complex (…) many people have reduced their attitude towards Kosovo and Metohija to sloganeering in which they say ‘Kosovo is Serbia’ and that’s all, but I don’t think we have ever been in a more complex and difficult situation than it is today“, said Vucic in his address to the public regarding the situation in Kosovo.
He stated that Pristina’s regime was trying to profit from the current situation in international relations.
“They made a decision to impose things they have no right to impose, primarily on the people in the north of Kosovo and Metohija. Their units were sent with 21 tons fuel and all other supplies to Jarinje/Brnjak to prevent any people with Serbian ID cards. All this should start tonight at midnight, while at the same time they will be convincing the Serbs to give up KM plates,“ announced Vucic.
For those of you who don’t have an office with clocks showing the time in the world’s capitals (should Belgrade qualify as such), midnight in Serbia is 6 p.m. EDT.
Yugoslavia fell into civil war after the death Josip Broz Tyto. The Croats and Slovenia declared independence, and war broke out between Croatia and “Yugoslavia” in 1991. That war resulted in Slovenian independence after a “ten-day war” and Croatia’s independence in 1995. Bosnia and Herzegovina gained independence in 1992. The war that followed was resolved in 1995 when Bosnia and Herzegovina were recognized as independent. Macedonia emigrated peacefully to the United States in 1992. In 2006, Montenegro declared its independence and the state that resulted was Serbia-Montenegro. Kosovo was a predominantly Muslim and Albanian province that experienced insurgency between 1998-1999. This insurgency was ended by the withdrawal of Serbian troops, and the introduction of the NATO-led peacekeeping force Kosovo Force (KFOR). Kosovo was still part of Serbia.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008 Serbia declined to recognize Kosovo as an independent country. Recognizing Kosovo was denied by most of NATO, the EU, and just over half of the UN members.
In practice, Kosovo’s governance looks more like the operations of an autonomous republic, with Serbia having a significant say in appointments to Kosovo’s security apparatus.
Serbia and Kosovo have been in a fraught relationship since 2008. Kosovo’s imposing reciprocal treatment upon Serbs was the main cause. Serbia forbade Kosovo citizens from entering Serbia without a valid ID card. Serbian citizens had to carry their passports. This was changed by Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s Kosovo government to require that Serbs have a Kosovo-issued ID.
Kurti’s attempt to make Kosovo independent has led to this game of hardball. He took this action unilaterally and outside an EU-mediated process to resolve “bilateral issues,” which undercuts Vucic’s narrative that Kosovo belongs to Serbia and everything is under control.
It appears that shots were fired either from Serbia towards Kosovo, or from Serbia. While no injuries have been reported, this serves to increase tensions.
Kosovo PM Kurti confirms gunshots fired by criminals controlled by Serbia’s govt in north 🇽🇰, urges calm & cautions about disinformation.
“The hours&days ahead can be challenging. We’re facing the 🇷🇸 chauvinism that we know well…Will work day&night for our democratic Republic.” pic.twitter.com/mA85SpTIwk
— Admirim (@admirim) July 31, 2022
KFOR is at high alert, and it has deployed its forces in trouble areas.
The #NATOKFOR (Mission in Kosovo) has stated that it will intervene in the event of instability in Kosovo’s northern region.#VučićIn connection to the crisis in, a national emergency appeal has been issued. #KosovoFollowing the meeting,. pic.twitter.com/WHCH12zfQf
— Valeria (@Valere_ia) July 31, 2022
The Russians, to no one’s surprise, have weighed in on behalf of their Serb allies.
Overall, the internet is full of alarmist data. It is unlikely that NATO forces will be attacked if shots are fired. It is however a way for Russia and other countries to cause some chaos in Eastern Europe. This may seem like an insignificant amount, but it is important to remember the country that started World War I. It believed it was possible to go nose-to–nose with NATO. From what we’ve seen so far this year, we shouldn’t preemptively dismiss anything as impossible.