US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has condemned the actions carried out by the government of Kosovo in the north of the country on Friday.
In a message posted on Twitter, the US chief diplomat said these actions are escalating tensions and increasing instability.
“We strongly condemn the actions by the Government of Kosovo that are escalating tensions in the north and increasing instability. We call on Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti to immediately halt these violent measures and refocus on the EU-facilitated Dialogue,” Blinken said.
Small groups of ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo on Friday clashed with police while trying to block the entrance of municipal buildings to prevent recently-elected officials from entering them, according to local media.
Police fired tear gas and several cars were set ablaze. In response to the clashes, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a written statement carried on state-run RTS television that he put the army on a “higher state of alert.” Vucic also said that he ordered an “urgent” movement of Serbian troops to the border with Kosovo.
The media reports also said that because of “violence” against Kosovo Serbs, Vucic demanded that NATO-led troops stationed in Kosovo protect them from the Kosovo police.
Kosovo police acknowledged their increased presence in the north “to assist mayors of the northern communes of Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok to exert their right of work at the official objects.”
New mayors in three communes in northern Kosovo, which is mostly populated by an ethnic Serb minority, were prevented from entering the buildings with small groups of Serbs keeping their hands up at the entrance of the municipalities, apparently in a sign that they were not there to take part in violence, Albanian indexonline.net website wrote, also showing photos.
Meanwhile, Kosovo president, Vjosa Osmani posted a message on Facebook saying that Kosovo’s territorial sovereignty and integrity cannot be threatened, while considering the actions carried out by Kosovo Police to be legitimate.
On his part, EU spokesperson, Peter Stano said the European Union strongly condemns clashes in the north and deplores attacks on EULEX patrols.
“Everyone has to take action to de-escalate and restore calm. EU will not accept any further unilateral, provocative actions,” he said.
According to him, “as the EU has consistently stated, the recent by-elections in the north of Kosovo do not offer a long-term political solution for the municipalities involved”, adding that “such solution can only be found through a real dialogue between all key stakeholders, which include Kosovo, Serbia and Kosovo Serb community – under EU facilitation”.
Albanian PM has also reacted. In a message posted on Twitter, the Albanian PM urges authorities in Kosovo not to proceed further on this “dangerous path”.
“Does what is happening in Kosova help the process in which all great friends of Kosova and Albanians are engaged, for the normalization and mutual recognition between Kosova and Serbia?! Surely not as long as our great friends themselves express deep concern! I join them in the appeal to not proceed further on this not only dangerous but completely unnecessary path today, when the democratic world has put the dialogue, normalization and mutual recognition between Kosova and Serbia at the center of attention,” the Albanian PM wrote in his message.