Thursday, demonstrations and sit-ins continued in northern Kosovo, which erupted a few days ago due to a dispute over municipal elections in four Kosovo towns inhabited by a majority of Serbs.
On Thursday, Serbian demonstrators continued their movement against Albanian mayors taking office in northern Kosovo, which recently witnessed clashes with the NATO peacekeeping force, while international pressure mounts on the Pristina government to stop the escalation of tension.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken urged the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to reduce tensions, saying: “We call on the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to take immediate measures to de-escalate tensions.”
Albanians come out in a counter-demonstration
For its part, called the police Kosovo Albanians not to participate in a demonstration that included for a short time at noon hundreds of people in the southern section where the majority of Albanians reside from the divided city of Mitrovica.
The demonstrators, mostly young people who answered calls on social media, protested for less than an hour near a bridge over the Ibar River separating the two parts of the city. The demonstrators waved Albanian flags and chanted “Mitrovica cannot be divided,” an AFP correspondent reported.
They also intended to go to the northern part of the city, where the majority of Serbs reside, but a large security cordon prevented them from passing towards the bridge.
In Zvecan (North), the city where clashes took place at the weekend between Serb demonstrators and soldiers from the Atlantic Force (KFOR), dozens of Serbs gathered again Thursday near the municipality building, but their number was less than what was recorded in the past days. Among them is a group of Tribeca miners, according to an AFP correspondent.
In this place, about thirty soldiers from the Atlantic force and fifty Serbian demonstrators were injured in the two clashes.
Since Tuesday, the municipal building has been protected by Kafour forces, which on Wednesday reinforced their defenses with barbed wire and metal barriers.
Military personnel from Kvor are also stationed on Thursday on several road axes leading to the city center, at the invitation of the main local Serbian party, after incidents in which two Kosovo police cars were pelted with stones on Wednesday by a group of “masked” people.
successive crises in the region
Kosovo’s Interior Ministry announced that a policeman was injured and car windows were smashed.
Serbs boycotted municipal elections in April in four towns in northern Kosovo where they form a majority, resulting in the election of Albanian mayors with a turnout of less than 3.5 percent.
And the installation of these in their duties last week by the Kosovo government to tensions. Clashes erupted first Friday between demonstrators and special forces from the Kosovo police.
The demonstrators demanded the departure of Albanian mayors who were considered “illegitimate”, as well as the departure of the Kosovo police.
Serbia, backed by its Russian and Chinese allies, never recognized the independence declared by its former province in 2008 after a decade of bloody war between Serbian forces and separatist Albanian rebels. It encouraged the approximately 120,000 Serbs residing there (between 6% and 7% of the population) to challenge the Pristina authorities.
The region has been moving from one crisis to another for years, but the major powers, especially Paris and Washington, have held Pristina responsible for the recent incidents. NATO decided to deploy an additional 700 troops there.
On Wednesday, from Bratislava, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the “responsibility” of the Kosovo authorities for the aggravation of the situation in this country after the violent clashes.
A day earlier, the US Secretary of State announced that the decision of Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti regarding the installation of mayors “led to a significant and unnecessary increase in tension.”