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Why Serbia and Kosovo Are at Odds

Updated: May 30, 2023

The urgent requirement for both countries to hold diplomatic discussions to settle their long-standing differences has been highlighted by the recent escalation of tensions between Serbia and Kosovo.

The events, which were characterised by bloody conflicts and increased military preparedness, serve as a clear reminder of the possible repercussions if these problems are not resolved.

The incident took place when Kosovo's police conducted raids in Serb-dominated districts in the region's north, leading to the seizure of local government structures. The Kosovo police and local Serbs engaged in violent battles, which resulted in numerous injuries on both sides.

In response, Serbia increased the combat preparedness of its troops deployed close to the border and issued a warning that it would not remain silent if Serbs in Kosovo were subjected to more attacks. Such events stoked worries that Kosovo might be subjected to another round of the bloody conflict that ravaged the country from 1998 to 1999 and resulted in numerous fatalities and displaced people.

The dispute over Kosovo's statehood is at the center of the hostility. Kosovo, a region with a large Albanian population, proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008. Despite having no official control over the province, Serbia has refused to acknowledge Kosovo's statehood and continues to view it as a vital component of its sovereign territory.

Since the bloody wars of the 1990s, the Balkan region has struggled to stabilise due to this impasse. Finding a peaceful and long-lasting settlement is vital given the recent events in Kosovo. With the assistance of the riot police, Kosovo's newly elected ethnic Albanian mayors attempted to take over the municipalities with a Serb majority. Local Serbs protested this activity, and the police used tear gas to disperse them.

The majority ethnic Albanians of Kosovo see the area as their country and charge Serbia with occupation and repression, whereas Serbia values the territory as a fundamental component of its identity and religion.

Officials from the EU have been working internationally to mediate the conflict in an effort to normalise ties between Serbia and Kosovo. Although agreements have been struck during negotiations, there have been few instances of them being put into practise.

Due to concerns of escalating already existing conflicts and instability in the ethnically diverse regions of the Balkans, the possibility of boundary adjustments and land swaps has been proposed but has been greeted with opposition.

A peaceful resolution is essential for the stability of the Balkan region and Serbia's and Kosovo's aspirations to join the alliance, according to the international community, notably NATO. Without a major development, there may be ongoing instability, economic degradation, and the possibility of conflicts.


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