President Vucic senses danger to Serbs in Kosovo and turned to Russia and China.
The Serbian government has been alarmed by Kosovo’s plans to transform the existing security forces into regular armed forces and has engaged the permanent UN Security Council members Russia and China. According to Kosovar Speaker Kadri Veseli, the creation of the army is scheduled to take place at a parliamentary session scheduled for 14 December.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic personally addressed Moscow and Beijing on Tuesday. It was quite clear that the announced build-up of the armed forces, as well as the insistence of Kosovo on a controversial tariff increase to 100 percent on goods from Serbia, aimed to expel the Serbs from Kosovo. They made impossible existence in Kosovo, said Vucic the Chinese ambassador in Belgrade, according to a broadcast of his cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday.
Vucic said the same thing to the Russian ambassador at a separate meeting. The president allegedly “drew the attention of friendly Russia to deliberately putting Serbia and the region in conflict”. Serbia does not want to cause instability; however, persistent provocation would put him in a losing position to protect the Serbian people in Kosovo, warned Vucic to the ambassador of Moscow.
The Kosovar government has recently drastically increased tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Kosovo sees a means of pressure to make Serbia normal interstate relations with Kosovo manufactures. According to Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, the disputed tariffs will now remain as they are until Serbia recognizes the independence of its former province of Kosovo.
Belgrade in turn refuses to continue the so-called normalization dialogue with Prishtina under EU mediation, as long as the tariffs are in force. Vucic had indicated on Monday also to contact the UN Security Council. UN Security Council Resolution 1244 from the 1999 war year still regards Kosovo as part of Serbia; the UN-veto power allied with Serbia Russia has hit the country and prevented a new resolution from being passed.
The Kosovo was once a province of Serbia, it is inhabited today to 90 percent by Albanians. In 1998 and 1999, an armed uprising by the Kosovo Albanians against the Milosevic regime, which deprived them of autonomous rights, led to massive repressions and evictions of civilians by the Serbian security forces. A 78-day NATO air strike against the then-remainder of Yugoslavia (Serbia, Montenegro) forced the withdrawal of Serbian troops from the breakaway province. From 1999 to 2008, Kosovo was administered by the UN. More than ten years ago, Kosovo declared independence. Belgrade has never acknowledged this step. It continues to regard Kosovo as part of its territory, with reference to the former demarcations and the Serb monasteries and historical sites located there. More than 100 countries have recognized the independence of Kosovo. Serbia also blocks the admission of Kosovo to the UN and other international organizations with the help of Russia.