How Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic stopped World War III - opinion

Shying away from the international spotlight, Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s president since 2014, has engaged in a complex effort to maintain stability in the Balkans.

 SHYING AWAY from the international spotlight, Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s president since 2014, has engaged in a complex effort to maintain stability in the Balkans, says the writer. (photo credit: Marton Monus/Reuters)
SHYING AWAY from the international spotlight, Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s president since 2014, has engaged in a complex effort to maintain stability in the Balkans, says the writer.
(photo credit: Marton Monus/Reuters)

The global political crisis and the East-West tensions, currently evidenced in Ukraine, bring to the forefront the need for a strong, sane and moderate leadership that knows how to maneuver between different interests, thereby preventing wars and contributing to international stability.

Shying away from the international spotlight, Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia’s president since 2014, has engaged in a complex effort to maintain stability in the Balkans. Remembering that World War I had broken out in Serbia, Vucic is working to prevent another. In addition, there is ongoing tension on the border between Serbia and Kosovo due to Kosovo’s provocations against the Serb minority in its disputed territory. 

Imagine the following scenario: A young boy is shot and wounded in Kosovo after carrying a Serbian Christmas tree. The boy later dies of his injuries in the hospital. 

Serbia has to respond and decides to send military forces to the border. In response, NATO sends troops. A NATO soldier dies from an accidental bullet fired during the friction between the armies. NATO has to react, and then Russia intervenes. While the world’s eyes are on Ukraine and Kosovo, China attacks Taiwan. A third world war begins. Does it sound imaginary to you? 

This is not an imaginary scenario at all. Just a few days ago, on the Orthodox Church’s Christmas eve, a police officer in Kosovo shot two Serbs, one of them 11 years old, for no reason at all. 

 Members of the KFOR peacekeeping force patrol the area near the border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia in Jarinje, Kosovo, October 2, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/LAURA HASANI) Members of the KFOR peacekeeping force patrol the area near the border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia in Jarinje, Kosovo, October 2, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/LAURA HASANI)

In Serbia, there is growing pressure from the public to take a tough stance against the never-ending Kosovar provocations, which started with the harassment of clerics and are now leading to direct harm to human lives. I’m sure Kosovo has its explanations, but how can it justify the continuous harassment of the Serb minority?

SERBIA IS in a strategic location in Eastern Europe, being a bridge between the East and the West. The UN did not recognize Kosovo’s declaration of independence, which the EU supports.

Russia, the leading player in Eastern Europe, supports Serbia’s territorial integrity and opposes the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.

Any mistake concerning Kosovo can lead to a conflict between the West and the East, Russia and NATO, and China and the US.

Contrary to the image shown in the mainstream media, Serbia, unlike Kosovo, is making significant efforts to prevent a third world war

In December, hundreds of Serbs in Kosovo set up roadblocks on roads leading to Serbia. The Serbian army was on high alert. Contrary to allegations that Serbia would start a war, Vucic went to the border to resolve the dispute and reach an understanding that prevented escalation. He also relied on the help of the American administration, which understood the gravity of the potential crisis. Vucic showed what leadership is all about.

How is Alexander Vucic bringing stability to the Balkans?

Vucic, who began his political career in a country that had been torn by civil war, learned from the terrible mistakes of the Balkans in the 1990s and is working to bring stability to the Balkan region. Risking political unpopularity, he negotiated with Kosovo with the support of then-president Donald Trump. 

A political leader is measured by his ability to lead people in the right direction, not by his efforts to please them. Vucic acted this way because he considered it was the right thing to do for the future of both Serbia and the region. To prevent the continuation of international chaos, we need balanced and experienced leaders who know how to navigate between different interests and avoid escalation.

The writer is a member of Knesset, chairman of the Yesh Atid party faction, and coordinator of the opposition.