The collective West is effectively blackmailing Belgrade on the Kosovo issue, and accepting its proposal would only prompt more demands, iconic Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica has said. The award-winning director made the remarks in an interview with Russia’s Izvestia newspaper, excerpts from which were published on Tuesday.
The pressure on Serbia comes amid the ongoing conflict between Moscow and the West, and, on a large scale, is part of a centuries-old struggle between major powers for control over access to warm seas, Kusturica stated. The timing for the EU-designed deal involving Serbia and its breakaway province, Kosovo, spearheaded by France and Germany, is directly linked to these ongoing hostilities, he believes.
“This blackmail agreement came at a time when the Ukrainian-Russian conflict is changing, when the Russians are advancing. They want to set the Balkans on fire and are bringing them to the point where the choice is either-or. This is an ultimatum, not an agreement,” Kusturica stressed, adding that accepting the deal would only lead to new ultimatums.
Still, the director expressed confidence that Belgrade would never agree to such a proposal.
The agreement, presented last year, envisions expediting Serbia’s EU membership process in exchange for de-facto recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Belgrade. This would become possible given that Serbia accepts the breakaway province’s membership in international organizations such as the UN, EU and NATO. So far, Belgrade has been resisting this scenario, but the West has continued to pressure the nation over the matter.
Last week, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the deal “hardly contains anything we would be happy about,” lamenting the unwillingness of the West to seek any compromise. The refusal to accept the agreement would result in the EU halting all integration processes, re-imposing a visa regime, stopping all new investments, and withdrawing all the current ones, he said.
“We have the following choice: either, on the one hand, isolation, sanctions of one sort or another, but there are no worse sanctions than the withdrawal of investments, about which I was directly told three times,” Vucic stated.
Kosovo broke away from Serbia during a war in the late 1990s after the US-led NATO waged a bombing campaign against Belgrade in 1999. Washington and many of its allies recognized Kosovo as a sovereign state after its parliament voted to declare formal independence in 2008, but Belgrade itself and nations like Russia and China did not.