Kosovo is afraid of Crimean scenario: Hybrid version of Balkan war

Author : Natalia Ishchenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said that Serbia plotted to annex the northern part of Kosovo, a Serbian enclave, in the same way as Russia annexed Ukrainian Crimea
19:36, 20 January 2017

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The European Union is actively working to expand communications between Serbs and Kosovars and built the bridges under this program, restoring direct motorway connection between the main part of Kosovo and Serbian parts of the country. One bridge was already opened in northern Kosovo late last year, another to be opened in Kosovska Mitrovica.

Since the war, the bridge over the Ibr river was closed, and until recently there were even barricades. As part of the peace plan of reintegration of Serb enclave in the center part of Kosovska Mitrovica the bridge had to obtain status of the transport artery connecting the city and general Serbian and Albanian parts of Kosovo, a symbol of renovation and communications between Serbs and Albanians.

The grand opening of the bridge was to be held on January 20. But the celebrations will not take place.

Related: Nikolic: ‘Serbia can’t introduce sanctions against Russia’

Although the reconstruction of the facility, funded by the European Union, has been almost completed, at present, construction has suspended. The EU failed to persuade the Serbian side to demolish the wall that power the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica built just before leaving the bridge. Originally it was positioned as the structure of the retaining wall, then as an open theater on the waterfront. But Serbs refuse to even discuss the demolition of concrete structures.

The official authorities of Kosovo have repeatedly made decisions about the destruction of the wall, but fulfilling it by force means provoking a serious conflict, and therefore the EU does not approve Pristina to do it.

On the eve of the announced opening of the bridge there was another event which triggered a new wave of confrontation between Belgrade and Pristina. In defiance of the ideas and projects of the EU, the government of Serbia has launched its own alternative transport project. After 18 years of break, the Serbian government decided to restore direct rail link between the Serbian capital and "Kosovo province." A special train from Belgrade to Mitrovica was launched. 

Related: Migrants went on a hunger strike on Serbian-Hungarian border

Serbs decorated vehicle with drawings and graffiti art (even inviting this famous Serbian artist). It was beautifully painted in the colors of the Serbian flag. Inside it was decorated with frescoes depicting the four Serbian Orthodox monasteries located on the territory of Kosovo.

Serb representatives of the authorities, journalists and social activists had to go to Kosovo as the first passengers. In particular, Mysha Vaсych - the leader of the right-wing nationalist "Srpska Narodna pokret "1389." The year 1389 means the date of the Battle of Kosovo. June 28, 1389, the day of St. Vitus (Vidovdan) was the decisive battle between medieval Serbia and the Ottoman Empire. The story of the Battle of Kosovo is fundamental to the national identity of Serbs and the Serbian state.

According to the "Kosovo myth," Kosovo is Serbian national shrine and the key to the greatness of the Serbian state. So full train moved towards Kosovska Mitrovica. But it has not reached its destination, as it was stopped at the border with Kosovo and Serbian station Raska. According to the government of Serbia, Kosovo security forces intended to prevent the train, including the arrest of drivers and passengers.

Related: EuObserver: EU advances on Serbia talks despite UK departure

As stated in Belgrade, Kosovo Serbs were awaiting the arrival of the train, surrounded special forces of Kosovo. In response, Kosovo government sent 17 armored vehicles, according to the government of Serbia, in northern Kosovo, Kosovo security forces can move only in coordination with the NATO peacekeeping contingent and the local (Serbian) community.

As a result, the Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vuchych decided to stop the train, "to preserve the freedom and lives of the people."

Ordinary passengers were forced to change to buses. They arrived without any problems to their destination. Dignitaries and journalists railed back to Belgrade.

The next day, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic have organized National Security Council meeting in the Serbian Main Staff. The events around the train "Belgrade - Kosovska Mitrovica", namely leading of Kosovo special forces to meet the train, were called as "a sign that the Albanians want war." President said that Serbia will send forces in Kosovo and Metohij  if the Serbian province's population is under threat.

Related: The Guardian: US transfers two Guantánamo Bay inmates to Serbia

"We do not want war, but we will send an army if necessary to protect the Serbian ... If they kill Serbs, we will send an army, each of us will go, and I would be the first," said Nikolic (in late 1991-1992, he volunteered for the Serbian army).

This statement of the Serbian president caused a resonance around the world, including Serbia. It turned out that the general sentiment in Serbia is not totally warlike. "Serbian society is fed up with war!" these were the words from the front pages of newspapers Kurir.  January 17, some Serbian media published huge materials that induce thoughts of famous people in Serbia - politicians, scientists, cultural figures, who sharply criticized Nikolic’s statement.

January 18, it became known that radical statements against President Nikolic were voiced by the Serbian Prime Vuchych, who, according to media reports, literally "forbidden" statesmen to make such statements on the situation in the region.

Related: Serbia accused Hungarian authorities for breaking international law

January 19, a beautiful tricolor train "Kosovo is Serbia", which has exceptional cultural value, runs the inner Serbian line Kraljevo - Požega."For the safety of passengers and railway workers," said Serbian Minister of Infrastructure."For the security of the whole region," thought  a lot of people in Serbia, Kosovo and the Balkans.
This time, the region has avoided a catastrophe: Serbian Army is currently in the barracks. But another attempt to establish communication between Serbs and Kosovars, in literally transport and relative socio-humanitarian sense, was another successful attempt at inciting hatred and further separation. And today the process of peaceful reintegration of Kosovo Serb districts that was allegedly agreed by the EU in Pristina and in Belgrade, is becoming less realistic.

The war should not come, but normal cooperation with Serbia, "Kosovo as an independent state," would not take place soon.

Serbian strategy regarding Kosovo, in principle, was described by the Serbian Orthodox Church - Serbian Patriarch Iryney told reporters: "God forbids us to send troops to Kosovo, but we have to defend Serbs ." So the agenda includes a peaceful resistance ... or hybrid warfare.

Related: The Irish Times: Migrants stuck in squalor at Hungary-Serbia border

"Hybrid Russian-Serbian news troops" are fighting in full. January 18, Serbian tabloid Informer and a number of sites and pages in social networks began to actively spread the news under the headline "He who attacks the Serbs, would attack the Russians."

With reference to an anonymous source (!) it was reported that Putin allegedly declared his support for Serbia and Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in the case of open aggression. As noted, this letter was sent to both Belgrade and Banja Luka, and to Tirana and Zagreb.

Meanwhile, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said that Serbia plotted to annex the northern part of Kosovo, a Serbian enclave, in the same way as Russia annexed Ukrainian Crimea.

But is peaceful annexation of territories in the Balkans possible?


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