From: Jordi Kuhs and Luis Lidón
Osmani: Putin Will Use Serbia To Destabilise the Balkans

This article was originally published on’s partner site Efe. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin, will seek to use Serbia to destabilize the Balkans and, with it, all of Western Europe, in an attack against the democratic values ​​of the European Union, according to Vjosa Osmani, the president of Kosovo.

In an interview granted to Exit’s media partner, Efe in Spain, she called for Kosovo to be recognized by all European and Latin American countries.

Kosovo became independent in 2008, after a decade of UN administration following NATO’s intervention against Serbia, which under authoritarian President Sloboban Milosevic had repressed ethnic Albanian Kosovars.

That Alliance’s intervention, without the approval of the UN Security Council, is now used by Russia to justify its invasion of Ukraine, where it intends to “denazify” the country and stop an alleged “genocide” of the Russian-speaking population.

Osmani describes this Russian comparison as mere “propaganda” and recalls that some 13,000 people were killed in Kosovo before the NATO intervention, with the majority of the population displaced by ethnic cleansing.

“If there is anything to compare in these two wars, it is the actions of Milosevic with the actions of Putin,” says Osmani who has been president of Kosovo since 2021.

Thus, in the same way that Milosevic became known as the “butcher of the Balkans”, “Putin is now the butcher of democracy”, because he not only seeks to dominate Ukraine, but “to destroy our democratic way of life”, warns Osmani.

The president is alarmed by the possible increase in tensions in the Balkans, where Serbia is an ally of Russia.


“Undoubtedly, Putin will try to use Serbia to destabilize our region because through our region he wants to reach Europe,” she says.

Serbia, and neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo are the only countries in the region that are not part of NATO. In BiH and Kosovo there are contingents from the European Union and the Alliance to ensure stability.

Maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans “means maintaining peace and stability throughout the European continent,” says Osmani, recalling that Serbia has carried out dozens of military exercises with Russia in recent months.

“We remain quite concerned that Serbia has increased the amount of weapons it is buying and this shows its intentions in the region,” she says, referring to the recent arrival in Belgrade of a modern Chinese anti-aircraft system.

In order to guarantee its security, Kosovo has almost 4,000 international soldiers on its territory, most of them from NATO, although the small country, with less than two million inhabitants, hopes to be able to join the Alliance soon.


“I think that belonging to NATO is crucial. I want to make an appeal to the four NATO members that have not yet recognized Kosovo to do so, because we must not continue to see this only from the point of view of internal politics”, she points out in reference to Spain, Greece, Slovakia and Romania.

A total of 117 countries have recognized Kosovo as an independent state so far, although they are missing not only five EU countries, but also China, Russia, India and most Latin American countries, such as Argentina and Brazil.

“The time has come for the countries that have hesitated until now to make that brave decision and show autocrats around the world that democratic countries stand united in the face of tyranny and autocracy,” says Osmani.

“Kosovo does not set a dangerous precedent for anything or anyone, quite the opposite,” she adds.

Osmani recalls that Spain argued that it would recognize Kosovo only if International Justice endorsed the country’s independence, which happened in 2012, but Madrid still does not accept Kosovo’s sovereignty.

“I think there is no reason for Spain to fear that the case of Kosovo could serve as a precedent,” she says.

“It is time for Spain to make a clear distinction between the internal issues it may have, on the one hand, and what Serbia, Milosevic, did on the other. It should not be compared to a genocidal regime, because what happened in Kosovo is decades of repression and a regime similar to ‘apartheid’”, recalls Osmani.

As for the “neutral” position of Serbia in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine, the Kosovo president demands that the EU take note of the Serbian position.

“They cannot say that they are pro-European, but at the same time, with their actions, they are pro-Putin. They cannot walk two paths at the same time. They have to choose one, either the EU or Russia,” says Osmani about Serbian aspirations to enter the EU.

Serbia has been negotiating its entry into the EU since 2012, although the process is stalled and Belgrade does not seem willing to align its foreign policy with that of the EU.

The president reiterates the plans of the Kosovo government to request this year, as Georgia and Moldova have just done, to join the EU, despite the fact that in the past several countries of the bloc asked to stop enlargement.

“The less prospects the Western Balkans have of joining the EU, the more influence Putin will have,” she concludes.