Balkan Hot Spot Could Escalade Into War

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A new war in the Balkans could break out between Kosovo and Serbia, the Wall Street Journal reports. Following a boycotted election in ethnically-Serbian Northern Kosovo, the Kosovo government went ahead and installed ethnic Albanians in the offices. Local Serbs have rioted, and the Serbian government has mobilized its troops to defend its fellow nationals. Serbia and Kosovo were at war in 1999 before a NATO bombing campaign prevented a Serbian victory, leaving space for peacekeepers to separate the two belligerents.

While ethnic tensions in the Balkans have almost become a cliche, they have ignited major conflicts such as World War I with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, or the succession of civil wars and atrocities committed in the 1990s when Yugoslavia was dissolved. With Serbia’s previous isolation from the broader European community and strong historic ties to Russia, there is a fear in Washington that Putin could distract from the war in Ukraine and fan a conflict in Europe’s back yard.

In a surprising move, American and European governments have sided with the ethnic Serbs, calling on Kosovo to hold new elections while calling for peace. America was the main backer of Kosovo independence in 2008, and the country as a whole is highly dependent on Western military support for its continued existence. Standing for justice regardless of the historical conflicts with Serbia may be enough to allow for renewed peace in the Balkans.


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