NATO deploys more soldiers to contain protests in Kosovo

NATO deploys more soldiers to contain protests in Kosovo

2023-05-30 18:02:17

The international community reacted on Tuesday to the outbreak of violence in Kosovo, the day after 30 NATO soldiers and 52 protesters were injured in clashes over disagreements over the results of local elections. The Atlantic Organization announced that it was going to deploy more soldiers in Kosovo, after the latest escalation of tension. “The deployment of additional NATO forces in Kosovo is a prudent step to ensure that KFOR [la misión de paz de la OTAN] have the capabilities it needs to maintain security in accordance with the mandate given to us by the United Nations Security Council,” Admiral Stuart B. Munsch said in a statement.

The high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, also announced his intention to organize an urgent high-level meeting to recover dialogue in the former Serbian province. Borrell explained that his Deputy Secretary General for Security and Defence, Charles Fries, is in Kosovo together with the EU Mission for the Rule of Law in Kosovo to brief him “personally on the situation on the ground.”

Meanwhile, unrest continues in Kosovo’s Serb-majority townships. Tensions escalated last weekend when Kosovar Serb protesters tried to prevent newly elected mayors from entering municipal buildings to take office. The Serb protesters claimed that the mayors were not legitimate because in the municipal elections of April 23, the Serb candidates did not appear in the elections as a form of protest and the winning candidates, ethnic Albanians, did so with the support of about 1,500 voters out of the 45,000 registered, that is, with less than 3.5% of the electoral census.

“Kosovo is in a very critical position,” says Visar Ymeri, former leader of the ruling party

speaking for The vanguard Visar Ymeri, Director of the Musine Kokalari Institute in Pristina, former Vice President of the Social Democratic Party of Kosovo and former President of Vetëvendosje! -the current ruling party- declares that “Kosovo should not have taken these measures” because “accepting that municipalities are led by mayors who do not have the support of the population would be a mistake”. However, he also believes that “Serbia should stop meddling in Kosovo politics.”

Since the agreements signed between Pristina and Belgrade in 2013, the Kosovo Serb community insists on the creation of the Association of Serb Municipalities, an organization that would give Belgrade the ability to manage economic, educational and health issues of the Kosovo Serb population. But Kosovo fears that, with this institution, the north of the country will become an autonomous region satellite of Serbia. “Kosovo politicians see this association as a Serbian tool to control Kosovo,” says Ymeri. “This is reinforced by the fact that Serbia does not recognize Kosovo and has put all its efforts into having international sanctions against Kosovo,” she adds.

Jovana Radosavljevic, an activist with the New Social Initiative, an NGO dedicated to promoting dialogue and the normalization of relations within Kosovo, assures that the escalation of tensions “is a consequence of the events prior” to Monday: “government decisions in Pristina have sparked crisis after crisis,” says Radosavljevic, referring to the so-called license plate crisis, which erupted when Prime Minister Albin Kurti passed a law to remove Serbian license plates from the country. According to this activist member of the Serb community, there is a deep feeling of “frustration with the institutions of Kosovo, but also with the Serb leaders”.

In unrest in Kosovo, 30 NATO soldiers and 52 protesters have been injured

Serbs, who are the majority in northern Kosovo, they have never accepted their 2008 declaration of independence and they still consider Belgrade their capital, more than two decades after the uprising of Kosovar Albanians against repressive Serb rule.

In the aftermath of the Ukraine war, the EU rushed to sponsor the negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade, fearing Russian influence in the region, but achieved no more than a verbal agreement between the parties with no concrete deadlines for moving forward that did not offer solutions for the Serb minority in Kosovo.

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