A conflict in the heart of the world - Will the great powers confront? - ednews.net

3 December, Friday

A conflict in the heart of the world - Will the great powers confront?

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The bloody clashes between ethnic Albanians and Serbs in the former Yugoslav, presently province of Kosovo had calmed down for some time. In fact, the long-disputed Kosovo conflict began in 1989, on the eve of the collapse of the Soviet regime, with protests by the Albanians, led by Ibrahim Rugova, demanding autonomy for the Serbian province of Kosovo. After the creation of the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1996 at the initiative of Ibrahim Rugova, the protests turned into a serious armed conflict. As the wave of conflict swept across Eastern Europe and the Balkans, it began to draw the attention of the international community, and finally the conflict was resolved with the intervention of NATO by giving an autonomy to Kosovo.

Although Serbia is predominantly Orthodox, the majority living in Kosovo and Albania are Muslims. Both religious and ethnic disparities often lead to border clashes between Albanians and Serbs, especially in Kosovo. Such cases have already begun to occur at the border in recent days. The Serbian government, which is concerned about the gathering of Kosovo special forces at the border, has also begun serious preparations of its military power. It should be noted that Serbia, unlike in the 1990s, now has a better and stronger army, as well as normal relations with Russia, which boasts with its immense power and provide military support to Serbs. However, given the fact that Russia tries to defend the other side, the result raises some questions. First, the Muslim community in the Balkans, a former Ottoman Empire, and Turkey, which will not remain silent on the conflict, second the Western-backed autonomous province of Kosovo which look a bit challenging with its NATO forces at the border. In that case, would Serbia choose a key ally between the two sides: the West, with which it has normal relations, or Russia, a tribe of its own? On the other hand, can this conflict in any way bring Russia and Turkey face to face? Or would Russia take a risk to move forward ignoring the NATO backed KFOR

EDNews.net interviewed Turkish political expert Engin Ozer clarifying the above questions.

Engin Ozer - AzerNews.az

- Tensions have re-emerged between Serbia and Kosovo. Both sides gathered an army and took a state of war. How likely is it that the US and the West backed Kosovo and Albania will join a possible war?

- As you know, there is a region between Kosovo and Serbia called Kosovskaya Metrovitsa. As there is no customs control in the region, there is a passport-free entry from Serbia. You also know that Kosovo is not recognised by Serbia at all, and the territory I mentioned is mainly connected to Serbia, both commercially and economically, and is the de facto Serbian territory. Even car license plates, which is the reason for tension today, belong to Serbia. The area is usually controlled by special forces, not Kosovo police. And the cars with the Serbian license plates, which I mentioned, can no longer enter the territory of Kosovo after the conflict. But since this is just an excuse, I do not think such a small event could lead to any major armed conflict. The reason is that KFOR, a NATO backed forces, operates in the area. On the other hand, such a local conflict cannot lead to any armed war, as Vucic's government in Serbia is now moving towards recognising Kosovo's autonomy. Even if there is any armed conflict, it can only result in the recognition of Kosovo after the resolution of the problem in the Metrovitca region.

- If Turkey-backed Kosovo and Albania of the former Ottoman territory clash with both Serbia and Russia, which has recently decided to send military support to Serbia, could this lead to tensions between Turkey and Russia?

- In fact, the answer to this question is clear. Although Russia has begun military exercises in Serbia, this does not mean that it intends to intervene militarily in Kosovo. Even Russia may recognise Kosovo's independence in the next six months. Russia is also well aware that if it takes any action against Kosovo it will see a NATO soldier before it, because its borders are guarded by the NATO backed KFOR. However, when Serbia recognises the autonomy of Kosovo, the Republic of Serbia within Bosnia is likely to secede. In my opinion, this may be the only thing Russia can gain.

- It is undeniable that unlike in the 1990s, Serbia has improved its relations with the West, as well as significantly strengthened its military. At the same time, Russia, the world's one of the powerful states support Serbia! What position will Serbia, which has normal relations with both sides, choose between the West and Russia?

- No matter how advanced the Serbian army is, it is well aware that its opponent is well protected under the NATO umbrella. However, the situation in Kosovo is not so good. Although Kosovo is recognised by particularly Easter European countries, it does not have full control over Metrovitsa. Because of this outstanding conflict, neither Serbia nor Kosovo can become members of the European Union or NATO. As for Serbia, the current Vucic government is pro-Western and is working hard to integrate into the EU. Both Kosovo and Serbia are well aware that in order to get what they want, they must first resolve the Metrovitsa issue.

By Elnur Enveroglu


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