Recent Developments in Serbia and Kosovo Scream for a Western Policy Overhaul

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September 30, 2023

1/ As facts about last weekend’s thwarted terrorist/paramilitary action in North Kosovo continue to come to light, one thing is becoming clear to even those who have wanted to keep their heads in the sand… it is time for the West to commit to a policy overhaul in the region.

2/ While there are long-awaited and welcome signs from some American policymakers that they understand this, there is still an evident wish to equivocate with “both sides” references, showing an unwillingness to part with the delusion of “moving Serbia.”

3/ @DPC_global has long advocated for such a policy shift, most recently in a March 2023 paper in which we note the flawed assumptions underlying Western policy. These rely on the myth that the @avucic wants progress or alignment with European values and institutions.

4/ While policy makers kept hoping against hope that they would get something by providing indulgences & validation to Belgrade over the past decade plus, it’s time to admit that beyond some arms sales in support of Ukraine they have gotten nothing…

5/ … in return for a policy that has instead weakened support for democratic values allies in Serbia and throughout the region. This posture has perversely worsened the regional dynamic since 2/24/22, telegraphing support for the most anti-democratic and autocratic instincts.

6/ As policymakers seek to restore deterrence and develop credible alternatives to the current failed approach, the following elements are critical:

7/ 1st, there can be no confidence-building in the absence of a credible security deterrent. The recent reinforcement of KFOR is laudable. But the regional posture demands a strong @euforbih deterrent in BiH (w US & UK), which DPC has – for 15 years – advocated.

8/ Over-the-horizon forces can only react, not deter, leaving instigators of violence or blackmail the initiative. The West made long-term forward deployments to deter the Warsaw Pact in Western Europe. The same is required in BiH and Kosovo, with commitment to defend borders.

9/ 2nd, the West needs to give up on the idea that the path to peace and progress in the region begins in Belgrade. Instead, the four countries in the region on the menu of regional hegemons (BiH, KS, MNE, NMK) need ironclad security guarantees and policies to match.

10/ MNE & NMK are already NATO members, but both have been unfairly preyed upon by neighbors. MNE by Serbia & the Serbian Orthodox Church, with @avucic using the dialogue as a shield and NMK (most recently) by Bulgaria, which has exploited EU membership for its identity agenda.

11/ 3rd, the West needs to take immediate steps in BiH to prevent escalation there, ending the farcical intl engagement that has unfolded for years. Dayton executive tools @OHR_BiH & @euforbih exist precisely to prevent and deter the sort of instability we are witnessing.

12/ Finally, democracy & comprehensive security are impossible in societies where corruption is institutionalized and incentivized through domestic and international structures that favor it – and even cater to it.