Serbian officials are warning that the Albanian ambitions to absorb Kosovo could easily lead to another war in the Balkans, and that NATO and the European Union need to publicly rule out that possibility in an effort to forestall another ethnic war spanning the region.
The status of Kosovo is a big sore spot in the region, after NATO’s 1999 war imposed a separation of Kosovo from Serbia, which was supposed by the Kosovar Albanian majority but widely opposed by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo. Kosovo’s independence is heavily contested, with a number of countries refusing to recognize it.
The issue is coming to a head, however, after Albanian Premier Edi Rama’s comments last week suggesting that Albania could “unify” with Kosovo if the European Union doesn’t more quickly grant them accession. The last war in Kosovo, which NATO ultimately joined, was fought in large measure because the Kosovar Albanians envisioned such a move as a step toward a “Greater Albania” which would dominate the region.
Serbian officials warned that such a move would immediately draw other Balkan nations with Albanian minorities into the war, with Macedonia and Montenegro likely to quickly get sucked in. So far, neither EU nor NATO officials have commented, though they will likely be loath to agree with Serbia publicly.
Ultimately, this issue is in great measure a consequence of NATO’s involvement in the 1999 war, and its “resolution” of the war being a situation in which Kosovo was left in more or less permanent limbo, torn between the Greater Albania ambition and its historic ties to Serbia.