Aleksandar Vucic claimed that NATO will not stand by Serbia if it does.
NATO’s peacekeeping force in Kosovo should “Do their jobs” in protecting the Serb minority, or Belgrade will do it unilaterally, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday.
In a televised address after meeting Kosovo Serbs, Vucuc’s speech comes several days after EU-brokered talks between Serbian and Kosovo leaders collapsed.
The crux of the dispute between the Balkan nation and its breakaway province is Kosovo’s push to declare Serbian identity documents and vehicle license plates invalid on its territory. In the end of July tensions flared with ethnic Serbs from northern Kosovo blocking roads, erecting barricades and blocking streets. Kosovo agreed after EU intervention to delay the actions until September 1.
“There is nowhere for us to go. We are trapped.,” Vucic claimed. “If NATO doesn’t want it, we will protect our people from pogroms and persecution..”
Though Serbia and Kosovo are slated to resume talks, Vucic was not optimistic about defusing the crisis, arguing that Kosovo authorities in Prishtina have rejected all “compromise solutions.”
“While we will seek to reach a compromise within the next 10 working days, I worry that the Rubicon is already crossed.,” he emphasized, accusing Kosovo authorities of seeking “to remove all Serbians” from the breakaway province, a statement that has been repeatedly denied by Prishtina.
NATO has increased its presence in Kosovo’s northern Kosovo where half the Serbs are living, also came under fire from the Serbian president. According to media reports earlier, NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR), deployed significant numbers of troops at two border checkpoints between Serbia and Kosovo. They promised to help if needed. As at now, there are approximately 3,600 NATO soldiers stationed on Kosovo.
In 2008, Kosovo declared its independence. But, Serbia along with Russia, China and China declined to recognise it. Moscow had earlier accused the West for igniting conflict between Belgrade, Pristina, and pressed Serbia to accept anti-Russian sanctions that were supported by large swathes of Europe. Kosovo claimed Russia was trying to deflect international attention from Russia’s military assault in Ukraine.