Crossfire War – Serbian Rally of 10,000 in Kosovska Mitrovica – Kosovo

Crossfire War – Belgrade – Athens – Tehran – Moscow Watch – Southeast Europe Theatre: Moscow – Tehran – Ankara – Athens – Belgrade – Kosovska Mitrovica/Pristina – Tirana – Skopje – Vienna – Brussels – Warsaw; Serbian Rally – 10,000 – Kosovska Mitrovica – Other Demonstrations Planned – Counter Rally of Albanians Set for Tomorrow in Pristina

Night Watch: KOSOVSKA MITROVICA – Opposing sides are gathering their supporters for a major confrontation that will soon reach the next level – armed conflict. AKI reports on Friday a rally of 10,000 Serbs in the divided Kosovo city of Kovoska Mitrovica was held that was organized by the Serbian National Council of Kosovo (SNV). It was the largest rally of Serbs since Brussels-NATO took control over the province in 1999 after NATO’s 78 day air campaign. SNV leader Milan Ivanovic stated, “Serbs will never give up Kosovo.” He added if independence is imposed by force, “Serbs also have a right to self-determination.” [AKI]

Serbian leaders, and Moscow have been stating, for more than a year, if independence is granted to Kosovo, it will create a chain reaction of ethnic-nationalistic-religious movements that will also demand independence even if it means by force of arms. Yesterday, mentioned an ethnic Hungarian community that is currently in Slovakia right on Hungary’s border. They have already been in contact with the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and have told them the Hungarians are monitoring the situation in Serbia closely. The Hungarians believe that if Kosovo is granted independence it would establish a precedent of the United Nations redrawing the boundary of a country due to the demands of a minority community.

That chain reaction of recognition could extend far beyond Europe. It would be a field day for weapons dealers. Weapon dealers were the realistic element Germany and the European Union ignored when they agreed to recognize the division of Yugoslavia sixteen years ago, in the assumption they could orchestrate the crisis and resolve it with a series of conferences. Ramifications of that decision are obviously still being felt. This year the fighting will reach a level not yet seen since Tehran-Athens signed a security agreement with Belgrade last year. A military delegation from Greece arrived in Moscow this week.

Serbian rallies are being planned for the next two weeks in other Serbian towns in the province, which are mostly in Kosovo’s north along the Serbian border. A massive final rally will then be held in Belgrade. Do not be surprised if there is a military demonstration at the Belgrade rally by Serbia’s re-equipped army and air force, probably with Russia’s assistance.

A counter-rally of ethnic Albanians is scheduled for Saturday, tomorrow in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital. It has been called for by the ethnic-Albanian group Vetevendosje (Self-determination) and they believe the plan presented by UN envoy Martti Ahitsaari allows Serbian muncipalities in Kosovo too much autonomy and close contacts with Belgrade.

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.