Introduction & Updates in National Landscape
The year ended with a major escalation of the conflict in Kosovo. A new crisis broke out because the Kosovo police raided the house of a businessman engaged in the production of wine and confiscated 40,000 liters from him. This action was interpreted by the Serbs in the north as a provocation of the Kosovo authorities, and the clashes started again, and barricades were again set up at the Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings towards Serbia. Barricades have been set up along the north of Kosovo, including the largest city in the north, Kosovska Mitrovica. The government of Serbia interpreted this action as another attack on Serbs and encouraged the building of barricades. The violation and cancellation of the Brussels agreement were also mentioned on both sides. The attempt by the Kosovo police to remove the barricade at the border crossing caused physical clashes between the police and the protesters. The international community expressed its concern and announced a diplomatic offensive in order to continue the negotiation process. The authorities in Serbia did not need a conflict, and they could not even endure it, although the new government announced that the police and the army would return to Kosovo, so the minister of defense even sent a request to the international forces to allow the Serbian army to enter Kosovo, but this request was rejected. As many times in the last two decades, the government in Serbia is using the tensions in Kosovo to divert the population’s attention from other existential issues. Inflation, which reached almost 20%, and the increase in the price of all services as well as rents, fell into the background because of the national reason of “defense Kosovo.” In essence, it is about trying to put pressure on the international community from both sides and taking the best possible negotiating position in the agreements that will inevitably follow very soon. One of the worst consequences of heating nationalist tensions is that it opens up a platform for far-right activities.
As expected, the tensions eventually ended, and the barricades were dismantled by order of the President of the Republic of Serbia; this shows that the ruling elite in Serbia was behind the attempt to destabilize the situation all the time due to the negotiations that were expected already in January, which will follow after the New Year holidays. Summing up the previous year, it can be said that it was marked by Russian aggression against Ukraine, which consequently led to the growth of the far right everywhere in Europe. In the Western Balkans, especially in Serbia, the far right used the pro-Russian sentiment of the majority of the population to improve its political position and take new positions. The result is the parliamentary growth and organizational strengthening of the pro-Russian far right, both parliamentary and non-parliamentary. The far right, under the control of the ruling political structures such as the Serbian right and Leviathan movement, has almost become invisible because it has completely integrated into the system. This corresponds to the beginning of the construction of new structures whose commander-in-chief does not sit in the presidential cabinet in Serbia but in the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Belgrade.
Transnational Activities & Group Interactions
The far-right has carried out its program in relation to the renewed tensions and conflicts in Kosovo, and it boils down to not recognizing the Brussels agreement or anything that was signed after resolution 1244 of the United Nations. They insisted on declaring the occupation of Kosovo and that instead of forming a community of Serbian municipalities, the army and police should return to Kosovo. After the escalation of the conflict in Kosovo on December 7th, the far-right groups gathered in Belgrade on December 12th. At that time, all pro-Russian groups, led by the People’s Patrol and the Serbian Action, demanded that the army and police return to Kosovo and announced a march towards Kosovo in order to support the people. The march started on December 18th, and several hundred extreme right-wingers and football hooligans participated. The police of the Republic of Serbia did not allow the gathered far-rightists to cross the border. In the conflict that followed, the cordon was breached, but the accumulation of additional police forces prevented the right-wingers from crossing the border crossing. Many of them were arrested, but they were soon released, and no proceedings were taken against them.
December 12, a rally of the extreme right in support of the Serbian people in Kosovo – https://t.me/hrabrozakosmetat/765
Protest in Belgrade on December 12 – https://t.me/narodnapatrola/504
Gathering at Jarinje on December 18 – https://t.me/narodnapatrola/507
Attempt to cross the border by Serbian extreme right-wingers and conflict with the police – https://t.me/narodnapatrola/511