ESI: No international observer has witnessed “ethnic cleansing” of Serbs in Kosovo



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The European Stability Initiative (ESI) stated that no international organization, including security ones, has seen evidence to support Belgrade’s claims of “ethnic cleansing of Serbs” in Kosovo, but the lack of evidence has not put an end to inflammatory claims.

In a report titled “Invented pogroms – Statistics, lies, and confusion in Kosovo”, the organization recalls that in July 2023, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić declared that NATO and the United Nations had fourteen days to disarm the Kosovo Police forces and protect Kosovo Serbs from “continuous pogroms and ethnic cleansing” by Albanians. Otherwise, “someone else” would have to do it.

The report notes that warnings that Serbia might need to send troops to Kosovo to protect Serbs are not new, referring to a statement by Serbian President Vučić in August 2018, in which he described Kosovo as a powder keg.

“Everyone will wait for an opportunity to strike each other to gain an advantage on the ground. And every day, we will worry whether they will attack us in the north, where they will hit us, with whose support…” the Serbian president had said.

However, the statements in 2018 argued that if Serbs were attacked in Kosovo, Serbia would defend them. Since 2023, statements argue that Serbs are now under attack and need protection, the report says, stating that this is a serious threat to peace in the Balkans.

Several months later, Serbian paramilitaries attacked the Kosovo Police in the north, the report recalls, the September 24, 2023, attack by an armed group of Serbs who killed a member of the Kosovo Police.

“It is time to take seriously what is currently being said by politicians in Belgrade. If pogroms are invented, violence follows. If these false claims are not countered, the situation will escalate further,” the report says, emphasizing that “it should not be difficult for international organizations to refute false, deceptive, and dangerous claims of imaginary massacres whenever they occur. None of the many international observers on the ground in Kosovo, from KFOR to EULEX, from UNMIK to the OSCE, have seen or described ‘ethnic cleansing of Serbs’ or Albanian ‘terrorism’ in recent years. But the lack of evidence has not stopped the inflammatory claims”.

The report highlights that one of the means in this battle of narratives has been statistics. On October 5, 2023, President Vučić stated that as a result of “Albanian terrorism”, 11 percent of Kosovo Serbs have left Kosovo since the beginning of 2021. On February 8, 2024, speaking at the UN Security Council, Vučić increased the number of Kosovo Serbs who had left to “14 percent” in just one year.

No evidence has been provided for the alleged pogroms, systematic violence, or supposed “ethnic cleansing” in recent years, the 18-page report states, comparing statements and statistics presented by Serbian authorities.