Starovic: Serbia has an adequate response to Kosovo's militarization, but we need a compromise solution

Beograd_240612_Podkast_Nemanja Starović
Source: Kosovo Online

Militarizing a political problem is never good, and for Kosovo and Metohija, a compromise solution is necessary, as any military, armed, or violent resolution can only be short-lived, Nemanja Starovic, the Minister for Labor, Veterans, and Social Affairs, emphasized in the podcast "Kontext."

He stressed that Albanian parties in Kosovo easily boosted their ratings by harming the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija.

“Of course, we are concerned about the militarization of the situation on the ground, the now constant deployment of significant numbers of members of those special mono-ethnic militarized forces of the Kosovo Police, who provoke, insult, and physically abuse members of the Serbian people. The entire process of transforming the so-called Kosovo Security Forces into the Armed Forces of Kosovo is absolutely against Resolution 1244, the Military-Technical Agreement from Kumanovo, the Ahtisaari Plan, and even the so-called Kosovo Constitution and the Brussels Agreement. So, pick any document, they are violating each one in the way they are acting,” Starovic highlighted.

Some international intermediaries, he added, are directly violating existing agreements along with Pristina.

“We have a certain number of NATO member states, though not NATO as an organization, fortunately for now, but a whole series of NATO member states that bilaterally support the militarization of Kosovo. Through equipping, supplying, training, donations, or very favorable commercial arrangements. Mostly Turkey, there is no doubt about that, but also, to a certain extent, the United Kingdom and the United States. Interestingly, Croatia both donates equipment and sells it to the authorities in Pristina. This, of course, raises the level of risk and threat to the Serbian population in Kosovo and Metohija, because whom do they plan to use that force against? It is not a high level of threat and challenge to the Republic of Serbia as a whole, if we compare the capacities of the Republic of Serbia with what the provisional self-government institutions in Pristina are developing. We must have an adequate response, we have it and will continue to have it in the future. We appeal to all those with influence to understand this correctly. We need a substantial, political, compromise solution,” Starovic pointed out.

He also addressed the frequently mentioned aspirations of Pristina towards NATO membership.

“We are aware that the self-government institutions in Pristina have an action plan for NATO accession, which involves several steps. The first is full membership in the Adriatic Charter, then the Partnership for Peace, and finally NATO membership. I must say that we are successfully preventing Pristina’s membership attempts at the first step, the Adriatic Charter. I have personally been involved in this, and I do not see it on the horizon, but I repeat, we should not become complacent. The situation is quite serious, not so much due to Pristina’s successes or failures in the international arena, as they haven’t had many successes lately, but it is worrying that perhaps compensating for Pristina’s lack of success internationally, their foreign sponsors are giving the authorities in Pristina free rein to do whatever they want on the ground, and the situation is deteriorating,” Starovic emphasized.

Regarding the All-Serbian Assembly, which was held in Belgrade a few days ago, Starovic said that there had been a need to manifest the unity of the Serbian people in a positive way.

“We want to affirm what represents the natural right of Serbs, which is fully in line with existing European values, the right to a unique cultural space, with full respect, of course, for the existing borders that no one intends to change in any way. Just as there is a German cultural space in today’s Europe, extending wherever Germans live, whether in Austria, Switzerland, or any other neighboring country, we believe that the Serbian people also have this logical and natural right to develop their cultural space. This was the essential message of the assembly, but I think there was an urgent need to organize this type of manifestation at this moment, as we, as a people, are under significant pressure. Not just recently, but I would dare to say that the pressures have intensified over the last three years. Since Albin Kurti came to power in the self-government institutions in Pristina. A special kind of pressure has been directed towards Banja Luka, intensifying precisely during this period, with the aim of drastically reducing the competences of the Republika Srpska, contrary to the Dayton Agreement. We are not asking for anything that does not belong to us under international public law, according to documents such as the Dayton Peace Agreement or the Brussels Agreement when it comes to Kosovo and Metohija,” Starovic explained.

He expected, however, negative comments and objections from certain places.

“I would be surprised if there weren’t such reactions, where something is being falsely attributed that absolutely does not exist, because no one has stated anything in any word of the declaration against the Dayton Agreement. On the contrary, we only call for the respect of the Dayton Agreement. You know, if someone had told you in 1995 that we would have almost 30 years of absolute peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, without a single major inter-ethnic incident or conflict, few would have believed it back then. It is very dangerous to take this document for granted now and for someone to try to drastically violate the letter and basic principles of the Dayton Agreement. The only way for any change to occur is with the consent of both entities and all three constituent peoples,” Starovic concluded.

You can watch the full interview of Kontext editor Milos Garic with Minister Starovic in the attached video.