With renewed tensions in Kosovo continuing to worry Europe, China said on Tuesday that it supports Serbia's efforts to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and urged NATO to respect relevant country's sovereignty and territorial integrity and do things that are conducive to regional peace.
More than 30 NATO peacekeeping soldiers defending three town halls in northern Kosovo were injured in clashes with Serb protesters, while Serbia's president put the army on the highest level of combat alert, the Guardian reported on Tuesday. The tense situation developed after ethnic Albanian mayors took office in northern Kosovo's Serb-majority area after elections that the Serbs boycotted, according to media reports.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Monday that the current escalation in Kosovo and Metohija is alarming, and a major explosive situation could erupt in the heart of Europe, TASS said.
Mao Ning, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a press conference on Tuesday that China supports Serbia's effort to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity, opposes unilateral actions by the temporary institutions in Pristina and calls on it to perform its duty of establishing an association/community of Serb majority municipalities.
We urge NATO to respect relevant country's sovereignty and territorial integrity and truly contribute to peace in the region, Mao said.
Although NATO pretends to be a peacekeeper in region, it has become involved in the local clashes in such violent way, raising concerns about a direct conflict between the NATO and Serbia, some experts warned, especially when many people remember how NATO blatantly violated the Charter of the UN by bombing the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999.
The Balkans have traditionally been regarded as the "powder keg of Europe," while Kosovo is a time bomb planted by the U.S.-led West to fan the flames when needed to serve its own geopolitical purposes, some experts said.
"NATO has granted itself the role of peacekeeper and peace builder in the area, showing that as a third party, it has to prevent relevant parties from solving conflicts with force. But now it is directly involved in the conflicts," Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
As NATO is pro-Kosovo politically, regarding the conflict in Kosovo, NATO cannot adopt a fair and neutral stance on the situation. Future conflicts could turn into those between Serbia and NATO, Cui said.
Some European lawmakers also criticized NATO's involvement in the tensions between Kosovo and Serbia. Mick Wallace, a member of the European Parliament, said in a tweet on Tuesday that "When did NATO Forces ever have anything to do with keeping the Peace? They are a War Machine that thrives on war and serves the interests of the U.S. empire and the military industrial complex."
The tensions have been escalating since local Serbs boycotted the recent elections where ethnic Albanian mayors took office in northern Kosovo's Serb-majority area, according to media reports.
While local Serbs denied the legitimacy of the elections, the U.S. and Europe recognized the elections, which further stimulated the Kosovo authorities. And in the eyes of Serbia, the U.S. and Europe have been "double dealing," as they claimed to keep the peace in the region but clashed with local residents, Yang Bowen, assistant researcher at the Department of European Studies of the China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met with the envoys from the U.S., UK, France, Italy, and Germany, as well as the head of the European Union delegation, and urged Western countries to urgently adopt measures to guarantee the safety of Serbs in Kosovo.
During his meeting with Chinese Ambassador to Belgrade Chen Bo on Tuesday, Vucic asked China for its influence on the international community to end violence against ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, according to media reports.
Serbia has been seeking a balanced diplomacy with major countries including the U.S., Russia and China, but since the Ukraine crisis, Western forces have been "cleaning off the influence of external forces" including that of Russia and China in the Balkan area, Cui noted. "The overall international environment for Serbia has changed, which is why Kosovo began posing challenges since last year," he said.
"This is also the reason why Serbia is seeking more international support outside the West and outside Europe," Cui added.