New clashes in Kosovo, Serbia sends army to border

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic placed the country’s army on high alert and ordered army units to approach the Kosovo border. The decision came after new clashes broke out between protesters and police in a Serb-dominated city in the neighboring country. “Soldiers have been ordered to move urgently towards the Kosovo border,” Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said in a live television broadcast. said. “It is clear that terrorism against the Serbian community in Kosovo continues.”

Police fired tear gas into the town of Zvecan to disperse the crowd standing in front of a town hall. Protesters were trying to prevent the newly elected ethnic Albanian mayor from taking office after an election boycotted by Kosovo Serbs. About 50,000 Serbs living in four municipalities of northern Kosovo, including Zvecan, avoided the April 23 elections to protest the failure to meet calls for more autonomy, a new setback to the peace deal signed in March between Pristina and Belgrade months later. Thanks to the mediation of the EU and the USA, conflicts and protests were prevented.

Kosovo Police said in a statement that five of its officers were slightly injured when protesters attacked them with stones and other objects. Four police vehicles were attacked, one of which was set on fire. Gunshots were also heard in the area.

The chief of staff of Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, Blenen Vela, accused “Serbia’s illegal and criminal structures” of escalating tensions and taking actions against the forces of order. “Violence will not prevail. Serbia bears full responsibility for the escalation,” a statement said. said. A Reuters reporter said several vehicles from NATO’s peacekeeping mission bound for the Italy-led country were seen near the crash site as helicopters flew over the area. Jeffrey Hovenier, the US ambassador to Pristina, condemned the action of the police. “The United States condemns the continued action by the Kosovo authorities to enter municipal buildings in northern Kosovo. Today’s violent measures must be stopped immediately,” he said on Twitter.

The protests followed the largely boycotted local elections in four municipalities with a turnout of 3.47%. Local Serbs said they would not work with the new mayors of the four municipalities, all of which belonged to ethnic Albanian parties, because they did not represent them. Serbs in the northern region of Kosovo do not accept Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after the end of the war in the former Yugoslavia, and still consider Belgrade their capital. Ethnic Albanians make up more than 90% of Kosovo’s population, while Serbs only make up the majority in the northern region.

Kosovo, a former Serb province with an Albanian majority, declared its independence in 2008 with Western support after the 1998-99 war, in which NATO intervened to protect ethnic Albanians. Independence was never recognized by Belgrade, but was recognized by most Western and EU member states except Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. The country has long been a source of tension between Russia and the West, which supports Belgrade in its efforts to block the country’s membership in global organizations, including the United Nations.

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Source: Today IT