Kosovan minister says Serbia aims to destabilise the country

MITROVICA, Kosovo, Dec 27 (Reuters) – Kosovar Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said on Tuesday that Russia-dominated Serbia aims to destabilize Kosovo by supporting the Serb minority in the north, which has blocked roads for nearly three weeks. are protesting. .

Serbs erected new barricades in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo on Tuesday, hours after Serbia said it had deployed its army in the most combat-ready situation since weeks of escalating tensions between Belgrade and Pristina. Put on alert.

“It is Serbia in particular, influenced by Russia, which has increased its state of military readiness and is ordering new barriers to legitimize and protect terrorist criminal groups. is… a citizen of Serb origin living in Kosovo,” Svecla said in a statement.

Serbia denies it is trying to destabilize its neighbor and says it only wants to protect its minority there. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Tuesday that Serbia would “continue to fight for peace and find a compromise solution.”

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Belgrade said late on Monday that it had ordered its army and police to be on “high alert” in light of the latest developments in the region and its belief that Kosovo was preparing to attack Serbs and remove obstacles. Is.

Since December 10, Serbs in northern Kosovo have barricaded several roads in and around Mitrovica and police after the arrest of a former Serb policeman for allegedly assaulting serving police officers. What is the exchange of fire with?

Albanian-majority Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 with Western backing, following a 1998-1999 war in which NATO intervened to protect Albanian civilians.

Kosovo is not a member of the United Nations and five EU states – Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus – refuse to recognize the state of Kosovo.

Serbia’s historic ally Russia is blocking Kosovo’s membership in the United Nations.

About 50,000 Serbs live in the northern part of Kosovo and refuse to recognize the Pristina government or state. They consider Belgrade as their capital.

The Kosovo government said police had the capacity and readiness to act but were waiting for NATO’s KFOR Kosovo peacekeeping force to respond to a request to remove the obstacles.

Vok said discussions with foreign diplomats are ongoing on how to resolve the situation.

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In Mitrovica on Tuesday morning, trucks were parked blocking the road connecting the Serb-majority part of the city with the Albanian-majority part.

The Serbs are demanding the release of the arrested officer and have other demands before they remove the barriers.

Ethnic Serb mayors, local judges and nearly 600 police officers in northern Kosovan municipalities resigned last month in protest against the Kosovo government’s replacement of Serbian-issued car license plates with Pristina-issued license plates. gone.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has given EU states more energy to improve relations with the six Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, despite continued reluctance to further expand the EU. What is forced to devote?

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci and Ivana Sekularac, editing by Alexandra Hudson

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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