Vienna, Apr 15 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin will seek to use Serbia to destabilize the Balkans and, with it, all of Western Europe, in an attack against the democratic values of the European Union, according to Kosovo’s president.
Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani made the statements to EFE in a video call from Pristina and said she called for her country, a former Serbian province, to be recognized by all European and Latin American countries.
Kosovo became independent in 2008, after a decade of United Nations administration following NATO’s intervention against Serbia, which under authoritarian President Sloboban Milosevic had repressed ethnic Albanian Kosovars.
That Alliance intervention, without the UN Security Council approval, is now used by Russia to justify its invasion of Ukraine, where it intends to “denazify” the country and stop an alleged “genocide” of the Russian-speaking population.
Osmani called Russia’s comparison “propaganda” and added that some 13,000 people were killed in Kosovo before the NATO intervention, with the majority of the population displaced by the threat of ethnic cleansing.
“If there is anything to compare in these two wars, it is the actions of Milosevic with the actions of Putin,” said Osmani, 39, who has been president of Kosovo since 2021.
In the same way Milosevic became known as the “butcher of the Balkans,” “Putin is now the butcher of democracy” because he not only seeks to dominate Ukraine, but “to destroy our democratic way of life,” she said.
The president said she is alarmed by the possible increase in tensions in the Balkans, where Serbia is an ally of Russia.
“Undoubtedly, Putin will try to use Serbia to destabilize our region because through our region he wants to reach Europe,” she said.
Serbia, neighboring Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo are the only countries in the region that are not part of NATO. In Bosnia and Kosovo there are contingents from the European Union and the Alliance to ensure stability.
Maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans “means maintaining peace and stability throughout the European continent,” said Osmani, adding that Serbia has carried out dozens of military exercises with Russia in recent months.
“We remain quite concerned that Serbia has increased the amount of weapons it is buying and this shows its intentions in the region,” she said, referring to the recent arrival in Belgrade of a modern Chinese anti-aircraft system.
To guarantee its security, Kosovo has almost 4,000 international soldiers on its territory, most from NATO, although the small country, with less than 2 million inhabitants, hopes to be able to join the Alliance soon. EFE