A President’s Alarming Social Media Post Stirs Mystery in Europe

Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters
Ognen Teofilovski/Reuters

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic issued a grim statement about an unspecified threat to his country in a social media post on Tuesday, raising alarm bells about a possible geopolitical conflict.

“Difficult days are ahead of Serbia,” he said in a Facebook post. “At this moment, it is not easy to say what kind of news we have received in the last 48 hours, [but] they directly threaten our vital national interests, both of Serbia and [Republika] Srpska,” he added, referring to the ethnically Serb Republika Srpska.

He vaguely alluded to Serbia fighting and winning in a difficult challenge ahead.

“In the coming days, I will introduce the people of Serbia to all the challenges that lie ahead. It will be difficult,” he said. “We will fight. Serbia will win.”

Vucic has not offered clarification about his warning, but the mysterious reference comes months after Serb gunmen stormed a village in northern Kosovo in an attack that left four people dead. The raid, which took place in September last year, had coincided with what the White House described at the time as an “unprecedented” build-up of Serb troops along the border with Kosovo.

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The incidents had raised concerns that Belgradewhich does not recognize Kosovo—is interested in escalating its conflict with the Balkan country, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

Kosovo’s ambassador to the U.S. previously told The Daily Beast of his concern that Serbia seeks to instigate violence and destabilize the region, with Russia fanning the flames behind the scenes to prevent Balkan integration with the West.

Although Serbia announced it was pulling back its troops from the border last year, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti shared a video on social media in recent days purportedly showing Serbian military units “meters away” from Kosovo’s border.

“We are closely monitoring the situation for any attempt to cross into [our] territory,” Kurti said.

A top U.S. official warned Serbia against any military actions last week.

“President Vucic knows well that any use of force against Kosovo would be unacceptable, would be regarded as putting in danger the NATO troops,” Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Jim O’Brien told reporters in a briefing.

Vucic’s vague warning to Serbians comes after a UN High Representative announced changes to the electoral process in Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this week. The announcement was blasted as inappropriate by Milorad Dodik, the leader of Republika Srpska, a self-proclaimed Serb republic in Bosnia.

“If you go after that, then we must take measures, and we have said what measures we will take,” Dodik, who has previously called for a “unification” with Serbia as part of an effort to unite ethnic Serbs, reportedly said.

Dodik met with Vucic on Wednesday, ostensibly to discuss an Easter celebration. Vucic said that by Orthodox Easter, “we will prepare a number of important and beneficial decisions for our people.”

It’s not clear what impact any of Vucic’s statements will have for Bosnia and Herzegovina, though. “Vucic thinks of Dodik as a liability,” a U.S. official told The Daily Beast.

In a report released just last month, the U.S. intelligence community assessed that Dodik’s threats about secession could lead to “violent conflicts.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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