To defuse the simmering tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Blaine Holt told Newsmax on Wednesday the sides need to return to the diplomatic efforts they engaged in at the end of the Balkan wars in 1999 with NATO intervention.
"If we go back to where we were at the end of the Balkan wars in '99 we would have joint policing, more cooperation, more of a regular battle rhythm or dialogue of talks," said Holt, a former U.S. military representative to NATO, in an appearance on "The Record With Greta Van Susteren" with guest host Bianca de la Garza.
"What we don't want to see is the two camps split apart and then have to guess what each other's intent are. It's much better if we bring these folks together and they work jointly on policing problems and judicial problems there in that region together."
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo's statehood. Earlier this month, relations between the countries became strained when a Kosovo Serb police officer was arrested after allegedly assaulting a Kosovo police officer during a protest. The arrest prompted Kosovo Serbs to erect roadblocks in the northern part of the country.
On Monday, Serbia put its security troops on the border on combat readiness; and Russia on Wednesday reportedly expressed solidarity with Serbia's efforts to protect ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo.
But Holt said he sees progress toward a diplomatic solution coming from Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who said the barricades will begin to come down Thursday morning, according to Serbian newspaper Politika.
"I'm really happy to start to see that President Vucic might have had some ends with removing some of those barriers and barricades," Holt said. "That could be the very first signs that we're going to have diplomacy come in here rather than bombs."
Holt said the last thing Europe and NATO needs is war breaking out between the countries, given the stress created by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and brewing tensions between Turkey and Greece.
"We see tensions all across Europe where there were fissures before," he said. "So now we have the Balkan wars heating back up. You already have the Ukraine-Russian war. We shouldn't look very far away from Greece and Turkey. Now we're starting to see solid friction in renewing those tensions between those two.
"Europe is absolutely getting strained and at the epicenter of this is still Ukraine-Russia."
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