NATO forces have extended a deadline for the Serbs of northern Kosovo to remove barricades near the border with Serbia. They have been told to clear the roadblocks by early Tuesday or face forced removal.
Political analyst Aleksandar Pavic from Belgrade says that if KFOR dismantles the barricades, it would contradict its stated peacekeeping mission.
“They are there to enforce peace and that is all, but KFOR since the end of July has been actually undertaking to help the Albanians [set] up their own sovereign state, against UN resolution 1244,” he said.“They’ve overstepped their mandate. If they were not doing that, they would have absolutely no problem with the Serbs anywhere in Kosovo. That is where the root of the problem actually is.”
Pavic does not expect local Serbs to take down the barricades on Tuesday. He believes they have made it clear that they are not going to remove any barricades themselves.
Pavich questioned KFOR claims that the only reason for clearing the barricades is that they present logistical difficulties for residents and peacekeepers.
“Before July 25, there really was no reason for KFOR to be in the north, everything was peaceful,” he said. “It was only when the Albanians sent their special police forces up north to establish a border between Kosovo and Serbia that KFOR decided to assist them. This is why they need the freedom of movement to actually assist Kosovar Albanians in building their illegal state. It is not about logistics, it is about politics.”
Belgrade called for the UN Security Council to help resolve the situation when the border crossings dispute began back in July. So far the UN has seemed deaf to the Serbs’ position. Pavic argues that it is not the UN that is deaf, but NATO countries.
“This is the United States, France and England,” he said. “Russia and China would actually support this request from Belgrade, but the Western countries have the veto power.”
Pavic says that Belgrade is trying to resolve the situation peacefully, but can only appeal to individual countries for support.
“I think the important thing is that we can see who is actually using force for no reason at all,” he added. “If KFOR moves [the barricades], they will be the ones using force.”