Serbia Commends Turkiye for Taking Command of Kosovo Force
Turkiye came in as savior for both Serbia and Kosovo when it took command of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) as both sides were involved in a series of clashes and incidents, even as the EU failed to resolve relations and normalize ties between Serbia and Kosovo.
Kosovo was previously part, a province, of Serbia and declared independence in 2008 with the backing of majority Western powers. But Serbia still regards Kosovo as its sovereignty. Turkiye also formally recognizes Kosovo as an independent state and continues to strengthen relations with Serbia. Turkiye also has strong ties with Kosovo.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti regards Turkiye as a friend and partner country of the Republic of Kosovo. He said Turkiye is among the first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence and which constantly supports Kosovo’s membership in international organization.
Peace and Stability Connects Serbia to Turkiye
Nemanja Starovic, state secretary of Serbia’s Defense Ministry, said while Belgrade and Ankara disagree over Kosovo’s independence, they remain focused on preserving peace and stability through dialogue. “We have a different outlook on an issue that is of most importance to us and relates to our territorial integrity. Yet what is connecting us right now is our joint wish to preserve peace and stability throughout the Western Balkans.”
Starovic said they have identified the common goals, common interests and acknowledge that Turkiye will do everything in its capacity to preserve peace and stability. “Serbia highly appreciates that fact. Belgrade is very hopeful that we will see more security for Serbs living in Kosovo on the ground since Turkish troops are on the field.”
He added that Serbian has been assured that the Turkish contingent within the KFOR mission will perform some kind of outreach to local communities to provide them with basic services that they are lacking right now. “Turkiye as the largest country of the Balkans and Serbia with its central position in the region, we understand that this is a common interest and there is great importance in cooperation and jointly working to keep the calm in the region.”
Serbia and Turkiye Defense Ties
Serbia and Turkiye are working on enhancing defense ties, with the former wanting to purchase some highly sophisticated military equipment from the latter. Moreover, Turkiye is also interested to purchase military material produced in Serbia.
Perko Matovic, director of the Center for National Policy in Serbia, believes Turkiye can ensure stability in the Balkans. “Erdogan is a strong leader who defended his country against the 2016 coup attempt. After that Serbia and Turkiye started furthering relations. It’s normal that political stability and cultural relations are followed by defense relations.”
Experts also say the Turkiye’s KFOR command is good for both Serbia and Serbs living in Kosovo. And in the Balkans, Turkiye is a critical stabilizing factor and it already has a balanced stance.