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HomeEuropean UnionEU Urges End to Police Operations, Violent Protests in North of Kosovo

EU Urges End to Police Operations, Violent Protests in North of Kosovo

Amid rising tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, the EU foreign policy chief Tuesday urged Kosovo authorities to suspend police operations around the municipal buildings in the country’s north rocked by violent clashes.

After contacts with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Josep Borrell said: “As the first step, I expect Kosovo authorities to suspend police operations focusing on the municipal buildings in the north of Kosovo, and for the violent protesters to stand down. I will continue engaging with the two leaders.”

In a statement, Borrell said the bloc expects the parties to act responsibly and engage immediately in the EU-facilitated dialogue to find a sustainable solution that guarantees safety and security.

“For that, I am working on organizing an urgent high-level meeting supported by EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak,” said Borrell.

At least 30 soldiers of the NATO-led international peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (KFOR) were injured on Monday in clashes with protesting Serbs.

Tensions have gripped Kosovo with protesters and security forces clashing in the country’s northern Serb-dominated municipalities over the election of ethnic Albanian mayors.

Meanwhile, more than 53 civilians suffered injuries from shock bombs and tear gas, hospital sources said.

One person underwent surgery and is in intensive care, said Zlatan Elek, director of the Clinical Hospital Center in Mitrovica, a Serb-dominated municipality that was the scene of clashes.

– Mayoral elections

Since Monday morning, Serb protesters have gathered outside the Serb-dominated Zvecan municipality in northern Kosovo to bar newly elected Albanian mayors from entering three municipal buildings.

The protesters attempted to breach the police cordon in front of the town hall, the police said in a statement, adding that they used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

KFOR units also used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the protesters, who did not retreat and responded with stones and sticks.

Last month, Kosovo Serbs boycotted extraordinary local government elections for four municipalities in the country’s north. Only 3.47% of eligible voters cast ballots, according to the Kosovo Central Election Commission (KQZ).

After the elections, the EU said in a statement that low turnout did not provide municipalities with long-term political solutions.

As tensions heightened in the region, Serbia ordered its army to advance to the border with Kosovo and urged NATO to “stop the violence against local Serbs in Kosovo.”

Kosovo Serbs on Saturday called on Vucic to suspend the ongoing dialogue process for normalizing relations with Kosovo, whose 2008 independence neighboring Serbia has never recognized.

The EU requires Kosovo and Serbia to reach a final agreement and resolve disputes to progress in their integration into the bloc.

Source: AA



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