The situation is very tense in the north of the country, where many members of the majority Serb community in four towns in this region do not recognize the authority of Pristina and are loyal to Belgrade.
Thirty members of the international force led by NATO in Kosovo (KFOR) were injured on Monday in clashes with Serb demonstrators who are demanding the departure of Albanian mayors, Belgrade reporting dozens of wounded among the protesters.
In recent days, the situation has been very tense in northern Kosovo, where many members of the majority Serb community in four towns in this region do not recognize the authority of Pristina and are loyal to Belgrade.
The Serbs boycotted the April municipal elections in these localities, which resulted in the election of Albanian mayors with a turnout of less than 3.5%.
These city councilors were enthroned last week by the government of Albin Kurti, the Prime Minister of this territory largely populated by Albanians, ignoring the calls for appeasement launched by the European Union and the United States. .
Hungarians and Italians among the wounded
The Serb protesters, who gathered in particular in front of the town hall of Zvecan, demanded the withdrawal of the Albanian city councilors but also of the Kosovo police forces, which they came up against.
KFOR soldiers, armed with shields and sticks, initially tried to separate the two sides before starting to disperse the crowd, an AFP journalist reported. Protesters responded by throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers before being pushed back several hundred meters from Zvecan town hall.
According to the Hungarian Defense Ministry, more than 20 Hungarian soldiers are among the injured, seven of whom were seriously injured.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani tweeted that 11 Italian soldiers were injured.
These soldiers “were the target of unprovoked attacks and suffered traumatic injuries with broken bones and burns from the explosion of incendiary devices”, KFOR said in a statement, referring to “about 25 soldiers”. wounded.
These attacks were described as “totally unacceptable” by NATO in Brussels. “The violence must stop immediately.”
120,000 Serbs in Kosovo
At least 52 Serbs were injured in these incidents, three of them seriously, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in Belgrade, adding that a 50-year-old man had been shot and wounded by “special forces” of the Kosovar police.
Serbia has never recognized the independence proclaimed in 2008 by its former province and tensions regularly erupt between Belgrade and Pristina. Some 120,000 Serbs live in Kosovo, about a third of them in the north of the territory.
Serbs resigned en masse in November from local institutions in the region and Pristina had decided to organize municipal elections in an attempt to end the institutional vacuum.
Incidents had already occurred on Friday when Kosovar Albanian mayors took office accompanied by police.
KFOR said it had “strengthened its presence” in the north and urged Serbia and Kosovo to resume dialogue under the auspices of the European Union.
For Moscow, the Serbs “fight for their rights”
On a visit to Kenya, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that “Serbs were fighting for their rights in northern Kosovo”.
“A great explosion threatens (to occur) in the heart of Europe, where NATO engaged in an aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999”, continued Sergueï Lavrov, referring to the intervention of the Atlantic Alliance against Belgrade which de facto ended the war between Serbian forces and Kosovar Albanian independence fighters.
Aleksandar Vucic, who on Friday ordered the Serbian army to be on high alert, as has regularly been the case in recent years, said Monday evening that the units dispatched near the border with Kosovo were deployed in “essential” positions. “We will not allow a pogrom of the Serbian people,” he said, calling on “the international community to bring Albin Kurti to his senses.” “If they don’t do that, I’m afraid it’s too late for all of us.”
At Roland Garros, Serbian star Novak Djokovic, whose father was born in Kosovo, spoke about the situation at the end of his debut match against American Aleksandar Kovacevic.
“Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence,” the tennis star wrote on a camera lens. “Kosovo is our cradle, our bastion, the center of the most important things for our country”, explained the world N.3 to the Serbian media in Paris.
Source: BFM TV