Episode 15: "Leaving Kosovo is not an option."

Show notes

The day Visar Duriqi left his family's hideout in the mountains of Kosovo and returned to his village are still vivid and painful memories for the young investigative journalist: "The Serbian army was in retreat, but their farewell gift were 4 dead bodies right in front of our house. I recognized the body of my teacher. Another person had been decapitated. Until today and whenever I pass this spot, memories of the terrible stench of the rotting corpses come back to my mind." Until today, barbaric violence, torture, war and genocide are the only common memories of this dark period of the now independent states of the West Balkans. Only Serbia, responsible for most of the atrocities committed, still refuses to accept any guilt in what happened. This makes for a volatile political climate in the region. Supported by the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic, Serbian nationalists and extremists in every part of the former Yugoslavia are playing with fire.They are firmly determined to stop their countries' desire to join the European Union and to end the membership of some of them to Nato. Vucic plays at different tables simultaneously. Under his leadership Serbia itself has applied for membership in the EU. Whenever profitable, Vucic deals with the United states of America. He has bought weapon systems from the Chinese. But his main source of strength is the Russian president Vladimir Putin. Russia tried to veto the arial bombardment of the Serbian capital Belgrade during the final phase of the war over Kosovo. Putin considers the Serbs as innocent victims of Belgrade's war s of aggression. When it comes to defending the Slavish brother people his reasoning sounds very much like what he has to say about the Russians being victimized by the Ukraine. Visar Duriqi has been observing Russian interference in former Yugoslavia for many years. He interprets the presently growing tensions in the West Balkans as a direct result of the Kremlin's destabilizing policies. In his opinion widespread unrest or maybe even a return to open warfare will be Putin's strategies of choice for damaging the European Union's political goals in the region. At the same time Duriqi is blaming the European Commission and the EU member states for their indifference to the worrying developments in the West Balkans. "If the Europeans are serious about establishing a lasting peace in former Yugoslavia they have to act now. Time is running out."

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