Vuksanovic: Pristina's announcement confusing, role of Serbs in "comprehensive defense concept" unclear

Vuk Vuksanović
Source: Kosovo Online

Vuk Vuksanovic, a senior researcher at the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, states that the biggest uncertainty in the announcement of the "comprehensive defense concept" is what it will mean for the Serbian community in Kosovo, from the north to the enclaves.

"On one hand, we have Serbs living south of the Ibar River, who, due to the fact that they are physically surrounded by Albanians in enclaves and have had to integrate into Kosovan or Albanian structures for their own survival. Does this then imply that they will potentially be recruited into the Kosovo Security Forces, undergo training for a hypothetical conflict in the north?" Vuksanovic asked.

On the other hand, he notes that Serbs from the north, due to their geographic proximity to Serbia, have had a different way of life from their compatriots south of the Ibar, so it's unclear how such a concept would function there.

"Could this be any form of political or organizational precursor to Kurti's further efforts to gain firmer control over northern Kosovo? Here, one question leads to another without any answers. It's a million-dollar question," Vuksanovic emphasizes.

He adds that the announcement by Defense Minister Ejup Maqedonci is "a very dubious statement given that Kosovo doesn't have an actual army" and links it to Belgrade's announcements about reinstating mandatory military service.

"It's a very dubious statement to announce the concept of total defense when you don't have a full-fledged army, considering that your main problem is the lack of financial resources and the absence of an adequate international sponsor for such an ambitious project," Vuksanovic says.

He recalls that the Kosovo Assembly adopted a declaration and declared an army, but emphasizes that the Kosovo Security Forces are not an army.

"The Kosovo Security Forces are not an army, they are not equipped like an army. The fact is that they actually aren't because they haven't gone through a series of operational stages set by NATO to be considered an army. Despite individual arms procurement transactions from certain states, like Javelin missiles from the US or drones from Turkey," Vuksanovic says.

He directly connects Maqedonci's announcements with similar messages from Belgrade about reinstating mandatory military service, but claims that neither side explains what such concepts would entail.

"We see that both in Belgrade and in Pristina, the concept of total defense is being announced, but in reality, neither side explains what that concept entails. Does it only involve the recruitment process and the process through which individuals undergo military training, or does it involve what it entails in countries that implement it, such as Singapore, Switzerland, or Scandinavian countries where the entire society mobilizes? But that would then mean the involvement of certain institutions, like educational or healthcare, as well as the private sector and non-profit and non-governmental organizations," Vuksanovic explains.

He warns that the key problem is that such a defense concept is applied by states with completely different geopolitical circumstances and levels of socio-economic development than Kosovo and Serbia.

"Hence, the question arises whether such a concept could even be applied," Vuksanovic concludes.