“The EU should lift its sanctions on Kosovo. The circumstances that led to their imposition have evaporated. The time has come to recognize that “consequences” for Serbia are far more important and entirely justified.”
By Daniel Serwer, @DanielSerwer ,
Washington, 04 October 2023, dtt-net.com / peacefare.net – Belgrade trained and equipped 30 or so paramilitary cadres, who murdered a Kosovo policeman before losing three of their own men. Likely they intended to spark much more violence and a crackdown, with a view to justifying a Serbian military intervention. Serbia mobilized its forces and sent them to the border/boundary, which suggests an invasion was planned.
Two dozen or so perpetrators escaped to Serbia, where they still harbor. They include he ringleader, Milan Radoicic. He is a close political partner of Serbia’s President Vucic, supposedly now under house arrest. I haven’t seen anything on the whereabouts of the others.
Verbal reactions aren’t enough
So far, the US and EU public reactions have been exclusively verbal. Both Washington and Brussels know that the Serbian state was responsible for an attempted violent insurrection with political purposes, aka terrorism. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani is right to be calling for sanctions. If Serbia gets off scot free in public, it will only incentivize similar behavior, perhaps not only by Belgrade. There are lots of capitals that might like to foment rebellion in neighboring democracies.
This attempted insurrection is only the latest in a long series of Serbian efforts to destabilize the situation in Kosovo. It is high time to impose serious sanctions. What might that mean? Here are a few thoughts about items that should be on the options menu:
-Suspend Air Serbia flights to the US and EU.
-Freeze World Bank and EBRD projects in Serbia.
-Suspend EU and US official financing for economic (not democracy) projects in Serbia.
-Freeze Serbia’s negotiations for EU accession.
-Suspend military cooperation between the Serbian Army and the Ohio National Guard.
-Impose travel and financial sanctions on individuals who ordered and supervised the training of the paramilitaries.
Expectations should be clear
Just as important as sanctions are the expectations they are intended to support and what Serbia would need to do to end them. Here are a few suggestions for those:
-An official, public apology by the President of Serbia to the President of Kosovo.
-Delivery to the Kosovo authorities for trial of all of the alleged perpetrators harbored in Serbia.
-Disbanding of the Srpska List political party.
-A documented end to all arming and equipping of insurrectionary forces inside Kosovo.
-Documented withdrawal of all covert Serbian security forces from Kosovo territory.
-These aren’t much more than random thoughts.
There are many other things that could be done, either by way of sanctions or demands. The point is that verbal denunciations alone will not suffice. The EU and US should be aiming to permanently weaken Serbia’s hold on northern Kosovo.
Right the balance
Kosovo is currently suffering substantial EU “consequences”, for its failure to comply with Brussels demands for removal of elected mayors from municipal buildings and reduction of Kosovo police presence in the Serb communities of Kosovo’s north. I don’t know how the mayors are doing, but it was presumably the police presence that enabled a quick, effective, and professional reaction to the attempted insurrection. The EU should lift its sanctions on Kosovo. The circumstances that led to their imposition have evaporated.
The time has come to recognize that “consequences” for Serbia are far more important and entirely justified. The moment has come to right the balance in EU and US policy, which parliamentarians in both have declared unfairly weighted in favor of Serbia and against Kosovo.
Daniel Serwer is a Professor of the Practice of Conflict Management as well as director of the Conflict Management and American Foreign Policy Programs at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
This opinion of his was first published at peacefare.net website with a different title.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of dtt-net.com