Serbia’s Jug base underlines ongoing tensions

The base, which was opened on 24 November 2009, covers some 35 hectares (ha) of land and cost more than RSD1.7 billion (USD23.3 million) to construct, according to Serbian Minister of Defence Dragan èutanovac. It is by far the most modern military base in Serbia and will house 1,000 troops. It has considerable training and recreational facilities and is also capable of logistics support. More land is likely to be acquired around the base itself.

The Serbian government argues that the investment in the base will create local jobs and prosperity, and will help counter terrorism and deter organised crime. However, its location is the subject of local controversy, as the base lies only 5 km from the town of Bujanovac, close to the Macedonian and Kosovo borders; a watchtower can clearly be seen to the west of the base, overlooking Kosovo. Although not constructed with conflict with Kosovo in mind, given the improbability of such an outcome, the location is provocative, particularly given the appearance of an armed Kosovo Security Force in early March at a martyrs commemoration ceremony.

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