Albanian PM: Serbian army powerless, positioned for political points
Prime Minister Edi Rama said that the Serbian army, currently near the border of Kosovo, has zero power and is there only for internal Serbian political reasons, comparing it to the idea of the Mexican army showing up at the US border.
On Friday, Serbian President Alexander Vucic sent troops to the border of Kosovo and put the army on high alert after protests erupted over the assuming office of ethnic Albanian mayors in Serb-majority municipalities in the north of the country. The situation escalated on Monday when scores of NATO peacekeeping troops were injured, along with police, protestors and journalists.
NATO announced some 700 troops would be sent to Kosovo, and the NATO Defender 2023 exercise within the country was cancelled.
Speaking at the GLOBSEC2023 forum in Bratislava, Rama was asked about the situation in the north of Kosovo.
“This is the most incredible display of internal politics because the Serbian army on the border of Kosovo has a power equal to zero. It’s like the Mexican military showing up at the US border. What can he do? Nothing! It is only about domestic politics. There is a lot about internal politics and what happens on the border with Kosovo”, he said.
Rama continued that the Balkans are in a better position today than it was 10 or 20 years ago because Kosovo and Serbia were near to finalising a historic agreement- normalising relations.
“Both sides have a kind of hesitation because they see that this will be done, and they won’t have to fight each other anymore. This is the prospect; it’s better than ever. This conflict has a reason, which in my view, could have been completely avoided”, he said.
Earlier in the week, Rama Tweeted that the responsibility for the injuries sustained by NATO peacekeeping troops lies with the perpetrators but hurts Kosovo in the eyes of its allies.
“The injury of KFOR soldiers directly holds the blind aggressors responsible and, unfortunately, harms Kosovo in the eyes of its irreplaceable allies and friends! The longer this dangerous and unnecessary conflict lasts, the more Kosovo is hurt,” he wrote.
He added that Serbia’s military power equals zero but that Kosovo is exhibiting reluctance to finalise EU-backed dialogue.
“My call to listen carefully to those allies and not venture further into not only a dangerous path but also a futile one – where Kosovo is being internationally harmed along with the KFOR soldiers who are being physically injured – isn’t an international call but a national need,” Rama said.
As well as sharing ethnicity with most of Kosovo’s population, Albania provided refuge to over 375,000 Kosovo refugees during the 1998-1999 Kosovo-Serbia war. The conflict, fuelled by Serbian aggression against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, at the time a province of Serbia, displaced some 1 million people.
Up to 9000 Kosovars were killed, and at least 20,000 rapes were carried out by Serbian forces.
The war came to an end following a NATO bombing campaign that lasted between 24 March and 10 June 1999, killing 1000 Yugoslav forces and up to 528 civilians.
Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, but Belgrade refuses to recognise it, a factor contributing to ongoing tensions and underpinning the EU-backed dialogue to normalise relations.
(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)