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KFOR: Several criminal groups were hiding behind the Serbian protesters in the north of Kosovo

2023-06-09 20:09:04, Kosova & Bota CNA

KFOR: Several criminal groups were hiding behind the Serbian protesters in the

A spokesman for the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in Kosovo said on Friday that several criminal groups were behind the May 29 protests in the northern municipality of Zvecan in which 30 KFOR members were injured during clashes with groups of Serbs.

"During the protest, many members of KFOR were injured by stone throwing, improvised explosive devices and the use of weapons. It was clear that people were trying to protest in a peaceful way, but it was also clear that there were some criminal groups hiding behind them that were trying to attack KFOR troops," said spokesman Andrea Gallieni at a press conference in Pristina .

NATO has decided that 700 additional troops will join peacekeepers in Kosovo after the May 29 violence.

"They will stay in Kosovo until it is deemed necessary. It is a preventive measure just to make sure that KFOR has all the means and possibilities to deal with the situation, where any event can escalate due to the security situation, but at the moment it is quite unstable", said spokesman Gallieni.

Both sides, he said, must bear responsibility, one for making decisions without taking into account the level of security and the other side to react to the violent actions that have been seen among the protesters.

"It is important and essential that everyone refrain from rhetoric, because at this moment only dialogue between the parties should be seen as the only way to resolve the situation. KFOR's task is to ensure the conditions for dialogue mediated by the European Union to move forward and find a solution to this problem," he said.

It has already been two weeks since the beginning of the protests in the north of Kosovo after the decision of the government in Pristina to send to the municipal offices in the north the Albanian mayors who emerged from the elections of April 23, which were boycotted by the Serbian parties.

Western diplomats have been trying to urge the sides to reduce tensions. Kosovo is being asked to withdraw special police units and mayors from their offices in the Serb-majority north, while Serbia exerts its influence to remove the protesters and ensure the participation of Serbs in the new elections. possible in the area, without conditions.

The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vu?i?, told the news agency "Reuters" today that Kosovo should not organize new elections for mayors of municipalities in its north until more autonomy is given to the ethnic Serbs.

"We talk every day with the representatives of the Serbs from Kosovo and I believe that they are committed to maintaining peace and that they want it, as evidenced by their behavior towards the KFOR troops. The only thing they seem to be looking for, in my opinion, is the removal of the fictitious mayors, some of whom in some municipalities did not even receive five votes, as well as the withdrawal of the special forces of the Kosovo police," he said .

The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, told the news agency "Associated Press" that the United States and the European Union are showing partiality towards Kosovo and tolerance towards, as he said, the authoritarian regime of Serbia.

"And there are some challenges because the special envoys come to us with requests from the other side. So this is no longer two-way. And we have to be careful because we know what Serbia wants. "Serbia wants Greater Serbia under the name of the Serbian world to continue receiving money from the European Union, gas and weapons from the Russian Federation, free investments from China and American tolerance all the way," Prime Minister Kurti said .

Diplomats have warned of consequences for the parties if they do not take steps to improve the situation in the north of Kosovo, open the possibility of holding new elections and return to the negotiating table.

The American ambassador in Belgrade, Christopher Hill, said in an interview for the Voice of America that Western countries have made it clear that Kosovo will face consequences due to developments in the north of the country, stressing that the problems are with Prime Minister Albin Kurti and the approach his response to requests to reduce tensions by withdrawing special police units and mayors from the north.

"But I think that Mr. Kurti has been fully informed by our ambassador in Pristina, by Mr. Lajçak and Mr. Escobar, that he will have to make some changes if he wants to have us as a friend and partner. I don't remember ever seeing such deep divisions in the relations between Pristina and Washington", said Ambassador Hill.

The American and European special envoys Gabriel Escobar and Miroslav Lajcak, who stayed in Pristina and Belgrade during the week, were unable to announce any progress in resolving the situation in northern Kosovo.

The spokesperson of the European Union, Peter Stano, in a statement to the media, said that Mr. Lajcak's discussions "were very difficult, especially in Pristina. This last visit confirmed that the parties continue to have fundamentally opposite positions on many issues".

He said that the talks will continue in the coming days to reach an agreement, and the head of the EU's foreign policy, Josep Borrell, is consulting with the bloc's member countries.

"The EU asks both parties to be constructive and ready for compromises, and we must see positive steps, especially from Kosovo, to ease the tensions in the north of Kosovo very soon. If the parties fail to act, the EU is ready to take decisive measures that will affect our relations", said spokesman Stano./ VOA

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