German government rejects demands to increase Bundeswehr presence in Kosovo. Tensions escalate in that region almost a quarter of a century since NATO’s aggression and the beginning of German military presence.
BERLIN/BELGRADE (Own report) - The German government rejects, for the time being, demands to increase the Bundeswehr contingent in Kosovo. It will definitely not dispatch any additional troops to the region “now and today”, Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius declared yesterday. He was reacting to demands by various German politicians – particularly Green Party members – for a reinforcement of German troops in Kosovo, because of the recent escalation of violence in the North of the region. A police officer and five assailants had been killed in an ambush of Kosovo’s police, apparently organized by a Serb-speaking businessman from Kosovo. As is normal in such crises, Belgrade had increased its troops at the border to Kosovo, thus causing apprehension in the West. Early this week the situation had somewhat subsided again. However, this episode demonstrates that Kosovo remains volatile, nearly a quarter of a century since NATO’s aggression against Yugoslavia and the beginning of a German military presence in that region, as is the case also in other theaters of military deployment. Read more
The EU attempt to loosen Serbia’s ties to Russia with tactical maneuvers but got stuck. Experts demand that China’s influence in Serbia also be weakened.
BERLIN/BELGRADE (Own report) – The EU’s attempt to use tactical maneuvers in Kosovo to loosen Serbia’s traditional ties to Russia have gotten stuck in the runup to today’s EU summit meeting. Trying to win Belgrade over to the West, the EU and the USA have unexpectedly taken Serbia’s side in the recently escalating violent conflict between the Serbian-speaking and Albanian-speaking populations in northern Kosovo. Serbia’s recent activities of scaling back its purchases of Russian raw materials and weapons appear to be an attempt to somewhat detach itself from the traditional Russian influence. However, the EU has so far failed to defuse the conflict in northern Kosovo to Serbia’s advantage. The Berlin-based German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) has now warned that not only Russia but also China has considerably increased its influence on non-EU members in Southeastern Europe and has become the single largest investor, particularly in Serbia. To oust China, SWP recommends that the EU denounces "dirty" investments from the People’s Republic. Read more
Unrest in northern Kosovo prompts NATO to bolster its troops in the region. The German Bundeswehr is also bogged down in what had been Yugoslavia, while taking up positions against Russia and China.
BELGRADE/BERLIN (Own report) – Almost a quarter-century after the illegal war of aggression had de facto split Kosovo from Yugoslavia, serious unrest is again flaring up in the region. The flareup began when the Priština government tried to inaugurate Albanian-speaking mayors in four majority Serb-speaking administrative districts in northern Kosovo. This was preceded by a fierce conflict over the formation of an association of municipalities with a Serbian majority in Kosovo endowed with autonomous rights, which the Kosovo government had already officially promised in 2013, but had been de facto sabotaging ever since. The conflict escalated into violence late last year and had merely been provisionally calmed down, only to re-escalate into violent clashes on Monday, with at least 50 demonstrators and around 30 NATO soldiers injured, some seriously. NATO has announced another increase of its troops in Kosovo. This also leaves the German Bundeswehr bogged down in what had been Yugoslavia – at a time when it seeks to reserve all its forces for the West’s power struggle against Russia and China. Read more
EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner calls for immediate end to unrest in Kosovo. They attest to the EU's utter failure in the region that was illegally seceded from Yugoslavia 23 years ago.
BELGRADE/BRUSSELS/BERLIN (Own report) – EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell is calling for an immediate end to the unrest in Kosovo. "This situation has to end," Borrell demanded yesterday in view of the protests that erupted last weekend because of the deployment of Albanian-speaking police, including special forces, in Serb-speaking northern Kosovo, which included the erection of blockades of various roads. A vehicle of the EU’s EULEX mission in Kosovo came also under attack. Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić called for the deployment of Serbian repressive forces in northern Kosovo – for the protection of the Serbian-speaking minority. Kosovo's President Vjosa Osmani accused Vučić of harboring a 1990s "mentality,” which, at the time, had led to "war" and the "killing of 150,000 civilians." Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti admonished Serbia, calling it a pro-Asian state – presumably a negative counterpart to a "pro-American" Kosovo. More than 23 years after Kosovo was separated from Yugoslavia through the illegal war of aggression, the EU’s efforts to build up the impoverished region has proven an utter failure. Read more
In the runup to Chancellor Scholz’ visit to Belgrade, tomorrow, Berlin increases pressure on Serbia to join EU sanctions against Russia.
BERLIN/BELGRADE (Own report) – The German government is intensifying pressure on Serbia to join the EU’s policy of sanctions against Russia. In the runup to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ visit to Belgrade tomorrow, it has been reported that the Serbian government is faced with the choice of either joining the sanctions or endangering its candidacy for EU membership. For many years, Serbia has been pursuing a foreign policy oriented, on the one hand, on obtaining EU membership, while maintaining good relations with Russia and China, on the other. Its ties to Moscow, in particular, have a long tradition. Even though Belgrade had condemned Russia’s intervention in Ukraine in the UN General Assembly, it refuses to impose sanctions on Russia. Most recently, Moscow and Belgrade decided, instead, to expand their economic relations; Serbia especially wants to buy Russian gas at a reasonable price. At the beginning of the week, several NATO countries sabotaged Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s visit to Belgrade, by closing their airspace to his aircraft. Read more
Foreign Minister Baerbock travels to Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina to roll back Russia’s influence there. In Bosnia, old tensions are currently on the verge of escalating.
BERLIN/SARAJEVO/BELGRADE (Own report) – With her trips to Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is initiating new steps to roll back Russia’s influence in Southeastern Europe. She will “make it clear that we will not relinquish this region in the heart of Europe to Moscow’s influence,” Baerbock declared before embarking on her trip to Sarajevo and Belgrade. Her talks will be taking place today in Serbia almost exactly 23 years after NATO’s invasion of that country in violation of international law, costing the lives of numerous civilians. US Senator, at the time, Joe Biden, had even called for the occupation of the country while the invasion was still in progress. Today, Serbia refuses to comply with the West’s sanctions against Russia, with which it has been having a growing cooperation for years. This is why the European Parliament is now threating that country with additional obstacles hindering its aspired EU membership. Already yesterday, Baerbock arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to threaten Bosnian Serbs with sanctions. They also feel comparatively close to Russia and demand greater independence from the Bosnian government. Read more
Observers see the EU’s influence waning in non-EU countries of Southeastern Europe. Think tanks headquartered in Berlin propose sanctions for “kleptocracy” against the countries of the region.
BERLIN/SKOPJE/BELGRADE (Own report) - The EU should add "kleptocracy" to its sanctions regime and extend the sanctions’ provisions to the Western Balkans. This is being proposed by the Berlin-based think tank, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), in answer to the EU's waning leverage in Southeast Europe. For instance, observers rate the recent resignation of North Macedonia's Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev, as a serious setback for Brussels. Zaev had made considerable concessions to be admitted to the list of candidates for EU accession negotiations, but had been ignored by the EU. Observers diagnose further setbacks in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where the CSU politician Christian Schmidt has been installed as the - non-elected - High Representative endowed with extensive powers, and in Serbia, where opinion polls indicate overwhelming approval for close cooperation with Russia and China, accompanied by a very critical opinion toward the EU. Read more
With Deliveries of Vaccines, Beijing strengthens its position in Eastern and Southeastern Europe –to Berlin's dismay.
BELGRADE/BEIJING/BERLIN (Own report) - China, in view of the EU's vaccine disaster, is offering Covid-19 vaccines also to other Eastern and Southeastern European nations, in addition to Serbia and Hungary. This is the result of yesterday's "17 +1" summit meeting, to which representatives of 17 Eastern and Southeastern European countries met with China's President Xi Jinping in a video conference. Over the past nine years, Beijing has been strengthening its relationships in the region with the "17 +1" format. Last year, trade with the participating countries had increased by 8.4 percent, in spite of the corona crisis, to reach a volume of more than US $103 billion, and Chinese investments in the area have again increased, despite the massive pressure being applied by both Brussels and Washington to persuade the countries to, at least, limit their cooperation with China. According to a recent survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the People's Republic of China has "become the most prominent third actor" in non-EU Southeast European countries, including Serbia. Berlin is also struggling against U.S. attempts to strengthen its influence in the region. Read more
BERLIN/PRISTINA (Own report) - The EU is discussing redrawing borders in Southeast Europe. The Kosovo leadership could thus cede control over its Serbian-speaking North to Belgrade, in exchange for the Albanian-speaking Preševo valley of Southern Serbia. Obviously backed by France, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, is promoting this exchange, against Germany's rejection. The plan, in fact, is redrawing borders in accordance with the ethnic criteria pursued by the German government in Southeast Europe, in particular during in the 1990s and early 2000s. After having been stationed in Kosovo for nearly 20 years, the Bundeswehr is preparing a major withdrawal. Its focus will now be on training and arming Kosovo's armed forces, which have begun cooperating with NATO, while Kosovo's population continues to languish in poverty, after nearly two decades of western occupation. It is the second poorest region in Europe. Only military cooperation with NATO is flourishing. Read more
- (John Laughland)
LONDON german-foreign-policy.com spoke with John Laughland on his new book "Travesty. The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice" (Pluto Press 2007). Laughland is the author of The Tainted Source (1997) and Le tribunal pénal international (2003). Read more