Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jane's Defence Weekly September 07, 2011

The recent clashes over checkpoints in northern Kosovo raised concerns across Europe, reminding the continent's policy makers that relations between Serbia and its former province are far from normalised. However, the way the situation played out was very different to what may have occurred a decade ago. The reaction to the recent incidents on both sides was fierce but largely diplomatic. While Kosovo declared a trade embargo on Serbia, the checkpoints were reopened in early August. The EU sent a senior official to hold talks with Belgrade and Pristina, and Serbian officers engaged in dialogue with their Kosovo Force (KFOR) counterparts along the border. The lack of a full-blown crisis highlights the extent to which the Serbian Armed Forces have evolved since the end of the Slobodan Milosevic era in 2000. Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovac. who spoke to Jane's in Belgrade in late July, insisted that a robust diplomatic response was now the default position of the Serbian government. "Right now we are faced with something which, for us, is completely inappropriate; it is something that Pristina decided to do in the dark. in the night, to change unilaterally the situation in North Kosovo." he said. "But we want to change the picture of Serbia from the 1990s, when we tried to solve all our problems with muscle."