Kosovo’s new prime minister, Albin Kurti, is partially lifting his predecessor’s 100 percent import tariff on Serbian goods. He has offered to lift the tariff completely if Serbia suspends its derecognition campaign. If it fails to reciprocate, the tariffs will be restored in June.
Their EU accession blocked by France, Albania and North Macedonia are opting for a regional, if temporary, solution. Together with Serbia, the Balkan states are looking to create their own version of the EU’s passport-free Schengen Area.
Citizens of the three countries would no longer need a passport to cross the border, but only have to show an ID card.
Labor movement would be liberalized through the mutual recognition of diplomas and qualifications.
Russia and Serbia share a rich history of religious tradition and support. Russia has stood by what it considers its little brother for centuries and it continues to do so today. Just last week, Serbia received ten armored patrol vehicles from Russia. Thirty T-72B3 tanks are underway.
Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić has thanked Vladimir Putin for beefing up the Serbian military, but he should be wary of the implications. If Serbia wants to join the EU, it must avoid playing with fire. Read more “Serbia Should Break with Russia”
Leaders of the six Western Balkan countries that remain outside the EU are meeting in Poland this week to discuss their possible accession to the bloc. Four — Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia — are candidates to become member states.
Large demonstrations have been taking place in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, every week since the end of November against the government of Aleksandar Vučić.
Vučić has been in power since 2014, first as prime minister and for the last two years as president. He leads the Serbian Progressive Party, which, despite its name, is right-wing. He started his career in the far-right Serbian Radical Party, which was founded by the convicted war criminal Vojislav Šešelj in 1991. Read more “The European Protests You’ve Probably Never Heard Of”
Southeastern European countries that were once joined in Yugoslavia battle similar economic and security challenges yet prospects for enhanced cooperation in both areas seem dim.
Many of the West Balkan republics are coping with economic stagnation and high organized crime rates, the roots of which can often be traced to the political top, frustrating efforts to curb them. Regional cooperation to strengthen economies ties as well as the fight against organized crime promises improvement but chances of a true security community emerging are slim. Read more “Prospects for Increased Balkan Security Cooperation Dim”
During his first foreign trip as president, Tomislav Nikolić told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Saturday that Serbia is on a “long and uncertain” path to joining the European Union and will not surrender its claim to breakaway province Kosovo for the sake of membership.
The nationalist Nikolić was elected earlier this month in a runoff election against liberal leader Boris Tadić. Tadić could yet become prime minister because his pro-European Democratic Party did win a parliamentary majority.
On the campaign trail, Nikolić proclaimed himself in favor of membership. “The European Union is our goal,” he said. “We want the EU if the EU wants us.” Members of his populist Serbian Progressive Party were loyal to President Slobodan Milošević during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s however, sparking fears in the West that he will take the country in a more pro-Russian direction.
Although recognition of Kosovo, which has a majority ethnic Albanian population, as an independent state is not a condition for Serbian membership, Brussels does urge Belgrade to “normalize relations” with its former southern province. Serbia considers the region the cradle of Serb civilization. Even Tadić ruled out ever giving it up.
Russia as well as five European Union members do not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign country. Most European states, Turkey and the United States do.
Kosovo tried to assert independence in the late 1990s which prompted the Milošević government in Belgrade to send in military forces to suppress the uprising. NATO responded by bombing the Serbs which compelled them to withdraw their troops and accept a ten year period of United Nations administration in the territory.
Russia criticized NATO’s bombing campaign of Serbia in 1999 and shares an ethnic and religious heritage with the country. “We see Serbia as our spiritual brothers,” is how Putin put it on Saturday.