Balkan Press Review

In the News: crisis in northern Kosovo, Pristina under pressure

A KFOR soldier positions with Kosovo police forces on the streets of Zvecan, in the north of the country, May 30, 2023. © AP/Dejan Simicevic

Text by: Courrier des Balkans Follow | Simon Rico Follow


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Dozens of wounded, including thirty soldiers of the Kfor. The images of the new outbreak of violence that has engulfed Kosovo for a week have gone around the world, to the point of reviving the specter of a new war in the heart of the Balkans.

From the first clashes, on May 26, the United States blamed the government in Pristina, accused of having "unilateral measures". The first sanctions were announced earlier this week by the US ambassador, Jeffrey Hovenier, visibly very annoyed. Since then, the European Union has followed suit: on Thursday, its head of diplomacy formulated three demands to be fulfilled as soon as possible. "Failure to do so will have serious consequences for our relations," Borrell said.

The controversy Djoković, Vučić rubs his hands

The demonstrations continue and the demands remain the same: withdrawal of "illegitimate" Albanian mayors in Serb-majority communes and withdrawal of special forces from Kosovo. Tatjana Lazarević, the editor-in-chief of Kosovo's last remaining independent Serbian media, worries that "Serbs will end up losing everything". In this context, Novak Djokovic's nationalist message at Roland Garros has sparked controversy. And it's not the first for "Nole."

In any case, this crisis is the business of President Vučić, who has been challenged for a month by a powerful citizens' movement, after the two mass killings that killed 18 people on 3 and 5 May. The violence of recent days allows him to divert the attention of public opinion by replaying the great air of the call for "national unity". The day after his failed show of force on 26 May, he announced that the army would remain on "maximum alert until further notice" near the border with Kosovo, at a time when the opposition was marching through the streets of Belgrade.

The outbreak of violence in Kosovo was obviously invited to the 2nd summit of the European Political Community held on Thursday 1st June in Chișinău, a symbol for Moldova which received last June the status of candidate for integration. The leaders of 47 European countries discussed first and foremost security, in the context of the war in Ukraine, but also energy, connectivity and mobility. The EU has also proposed a "growth plan" for the Western Balkans.

The Balkans support Erdoğan... Except Greece

Scenes of jubilation in Sarajevo, Skopje or Prizren, rains of congratulatory messages calling for the strengthening of cooperation with Turkey: as soon as his re-election was confirmed, the Balkan countries weaved praise to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. With one predictable exception: Greece, which is cautious.

The strongman of Ankara was re-elected against the candidate of the united opposition Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. In the streets of Istanbul, horns sounded late into the night, but for those hoping for his defeat, the shock is harsh. Report.

War crimes: Milošević regime found guilty

On Wednesday, international judges in The Hague definitively sentenced former Serbian state security chiefs Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović to 15 years in prison. This is a crucial verdict that links the Milošević regime to war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

Smoking has been banned since 28th May in public places in the Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina... But the application of this anti-smoking law is "staggered" over a year to allow everyone to get used to it. A small revolution in a country where half of adults are smokers. Report.

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