Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo are once again on the rise due to new regulations imposed by Kosovo. Over the next three months, it is unlikely that Serbia will take any action against Kosovo as it is reliant on Russia’s support. Additionally, it is unlikely that Kosovo’s documentation mandates will take effect and there is a real possibility that its application to the European Union will be expedited, both as a result of diplomatic pressure from Western nations.
KJ-1. It is unlikely that Kosovo’s requirements imposed on Serbians will be fully implemented within the next 3 months.
- A year prior, Kosovo tried to enforce the new requirements for citizens in the north to adopt Kosovar license plates. However, the Serb majority population in the region refused and responded with roadblocks and protests. (Source)
- Due to mounting regional pressures, such as the war in Ukraine, Western diplomats are trying to put out fires before they start. The Kosovar government is under pressure from their Western allies to not instigate a conflict with Serbia. The extension was due in large part to Western officials’ intervention. (Source)
- The new license plate and documentation requirements for Serbians coming into Kosovo are primarily a political move rather than for security. Serbia has had the same requirements for citizens of Kosovo wanting to travel to Serbia for years. (Source)
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KJ-2. There is a realistic possibility that the EU will consider expediting Kosovo’s entrance to the Union in the next 3 months.
- For a country to join the European Union, all other member states must agree on the new addition. Due to Serbia’s claim to Kosovo as part of its sovereign territory, it would block Kosovo’s addition to the EU if it became a member state first. (Source, Source)
- As the war in Ukraine continues, Western nations are looking for more regional allies in the Balkans. Kosovo has been a long-standing ally of the United States and quickly adopted sanctions against Russia imposed by the EU. (Source)
- Expediting Kosovo’s entrance into the European Union could be seen as a step towards normalising relations between the two states. Additionally, it would put political pressure on Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence. (Source)
KJ-3. Over the next 3 months, it is highly likely that Serbia will wait to see if Russia’s war is successful before retaliating.
- Despite Serbia’s desire for entrance into the European Union, it has refused to adopt any sanctions against Russia. Additionally, Serbia’s Interior minister was seen alongside the infamous Russian “Z” symbol. (Source, Source)
- Serbia has strong ties with Russia. Moscow provided Serbia with warplanes, tanks, and air defence systems for over a decade. Additionally, Russia plans on building a permanent military base in Serbia. (Source, Source)
- Regarding the situation, the Serbian president, Aleksandar Vučić said, “We will pray for peace and seek peace, but there will be no surrender and Serbia will win.” For a nation as small as Serbia to have a chance against NATO forces, it would need help from Russia. (Source)
- NATO has officially stated that it is prepared to intervene in Kosovo if tensions reach a boiling point. Additionally, the US contingency of the NATO mission in Kosovo has positioned itself along the Serbian border (Source)