Stoltenberg's "ramp" for the Kosovo Security Forces may be the last chance for peace in the north

Source: Kosovo Online

The message of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, sent from the headquarters of the Alliance in the presence of Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani - that not only permission was needed for the deployment of the Kosovo Security Forces to the north, but also that every action of the Kosovo Police had to be carried out in consultation with KFOR – was greeted with hope by the Serbs from the north, in Belgrade with cautious optimism, and in Pristina with harsh criticism of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti due to worsening relations with allies.

Namely, this is the first time that a high-ranking official of the Alliance, or rather any of the Western representatives, has openly warned that "solo" actions by the Kosovo Police in the north, that is, any moves by the authorities in Pristina, would practically not be tolerated.

Even the former Director of the Kosovo Police Rashit Qalaj admits this, who said that the international community had never delivered such a request, as Stoltenberg was doing now, and blamed Kurti's Government for it. Security expert Fatmir Collaku went a step further - according to him, limiting the deployment of Kosovo Special Units in the north was a clear signal that that part of Kosovo was gradually coming under the control and protectorate of the international military mission KFOR.

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, said that he expected Stoltenberg's serious statement about the obligations of the KSF and the Kosovo Police to have an impact, if not on Kurti, who, as he said, was only interested in fulfilling Adem Demaci's goals, then on KFOR and EULEX.

"I hope that it will have an impact, if not on Kurti, probably on others, Kfor, EULEX. I believe that such a responsible statement should have an influence on them" the President said and pointed to the dreams of Albin Kurti, indicating that he did not want a reasonable and rational approach.

The interlocutors of Kosovo Online also believe that Stoltenberg's clear message came at the right time, ahead of the continuation of the high-level dialogue in Brussels on September 14, which, they claim, Kurti is trying to "mine" with new unilateral actions.

Just one day after Stoltenberg's message, members of the Kosovo Police arrested another Serb, G. S. from Leposavic, and the mayor of North Mitrovica, Erden Atiq, does not give up his attempts to evict employees of Serbian institutions from Bosniak Mahala, despite appeals from the international community that the deadline he gave until today be extended.

State Secretary in the Ministry of Defense of Serbia, Nemanja Starovic, told Kosovo Online that Stoltenberg had implicitly admitted that the militarized forces of the Kosovo Police in the previous period had been a factor that influenced destabilization. He added that Stoltenberg's statement after the meeting with "Ms. Vjosa Osmani from Kosovo", as she had been officially presented at the NATO headquarters, pointed out two important things.

"The first is that according to the valid agreements from 2013, the so-called Kosovo Security Forces cannot enter the north of Kosovo without the explicit consent of KFOR, and the second is that special militarized monoethnic police forces cannot be deployed in the north without timely and meaningful consultations with KFOR," Starovic said for Kosovo Online, emphasizing that this represented a positive step forward in relation to what had been the usual communication of the NATO alliance until now, where it had been constantly pointed out that the KFOR mission represented only the third response force to security challenges and threats after the Kosovo Police and EULEX.

For the executive director of the NGO "Advocacy Center for Democratic Culture" from North Mitrovica, Dusan Radakovic, there is no doubt that the smallest incident could cause events similar to those of May 29 this year, when the illegitimately elected mayors, with the assistance of the Kosovo Police, occupied municipal buildings in the north. or those of March 17, 2004.

"Definitely all the actions we have had in the last week, the moves of the tax administration and tax inspectors walking around the city, and around the building of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and the Pension and Disability Insurance fund. These are all actions that should lead to an escalation on the eve of September 14 and the continuation of negotiations. That one side has a much greater burden, and pressure on itself than the other side, above all, the Serbian side has more pressure. I expect every day that we will have problems; we still don't have confirmation that the eviction from the building has been postponed officially, but we all have behind-the-scenes stories; we can have special units at any moment and have major incidents. It doesn't mean that we can have some more actions on Monday or Tuesday, but every action is aimed at causing incidents, that someone can throw a stone at Special Forces or a policeman so that special units come and create a big escalation and a big problem," Radakovic warns for Kosovo online.

The Deputy Director of the Clinical Hospital Center Kosovska Mitrovica, Dragisa Milovic, told Kosovo Online that Stoltenberg's statement instilled some kind of hope for a peaceful solution to the crisis in the north, which had been going on for several months and which, he said, had been caused by Pristina's unilateral moves.

He also spoke about the fact that the authorities in Pristina were making new moves every day that led to escalation, from the usurpation of the property of the Serbian state to attempts to evict them from the official premises in the building in Bosniak Mahala, where the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, the Provincial Pension and Disability Insurance Fund, the Center for Social Work Vucitrn and Kosovska Mitrovica Administrative District were located, indicating that "we witness every day that there is no de-escalation".

"Unfortunately, the pressure on the Serbs continues; now we see that they are trying to take over the institutions where the Serbs have been working for years, that is, for decades, to leave them without work, to make their life even more difficult, so that we can leave our centuries-old hearths. We will not leave our premises and our workplaces, we will continue to work because we were born here, we are on our own land and it will remain so," Milovic was clear.

The President of the Matica Albanaca in Serbia, Demo Berisha, says that the NATO Secretary General has "revived" the Brussels Agreement from 2013 with the statement about the presence of the KSF and the Kosovo Police in the north. Berisha reminds that the Brussels Agreement does not allow the presence of the KSF in the north.