On Thursday, ethnic Serbs gathered once more in a volatile village in northern Kosovo, which was the location of violence earlier this week with soldiers supported by NATO. This occurred as the United States government urged both Belgrade and Pristina to de-escalate the situation.
Around seventy people demonstrated in front of the town hall in Zvecan, which was cordoned off with barbed wire and surrounded by peacekeepers from the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) dressed in full riot gear. This number represents a major decrease from the masses that were present on previous days.
Antony Blinken, the Secretary of State for the United States of America, issued a plea to both Pristina and Belgrade to de-escalate the hostilities between their countries and warned that they were putting the goals of European integration in jeopardy.
Blinken told reporters on Thursday in Oslo that “we call on the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions.” The NATO meetings were taking place on Thursday.
Two ethnic Albanian men are claimed to have been injured in an attack that took place close to a square in the Serb-populated portion of the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica, according to the Kosovo police.
The phrase “the victims were attacked by a group of criminals who were masked and organized for the attack,” followed by the phrase “the victims sustained injuries and were transported to a medical facility for treatment”
In Zvecan, a KFOR armored vehicle was placed along the road that leads to the town hall. This step was requested on Wednesday by a local Serb party after masked protestors shattered glass on two Kosovo police cars in the town center, injuring an officer. The protesters were also seen wearing masks.
Protesters armed with rocks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails battled with troops led by NATO on Monday. The peacekeepers were armed with shields and batons. More than fifty protesters and thirty individuals working to maintain peace were hurt.
Despite announcements that they would be “marching” towards the Serb neighborhood, the demonstrators dispersed after only half an hour even though they had gathered in the southern area of Mitrovica, which is populated primarily by ethnic Albanians.
They waved Albanian flags and shouted, “Mitrovica cannot be divided,” as police in riot gear blocked the road leading to the bridge that is the physical barrier between the northern and southern sections of the city.
‘Unnecessarily increased tensions’ Several hundred locals, largely young people, gathered on the southern part of the bridge over the river Ibar, which separates Mitrovica, in response to the appeal that was received through social media.
They waved flags of the Albanian nation and shouted that Mitrovica should not be split up. Their path to the bridge was blocked by a large cordon of police clad in anti-riot gear, and as they reached the bridge, metal gates were put over it, making it impossible for them to cross. The KFOR soldiers served as a backup for the police by standing on the bridge. The demonstration lasted for hardly more than a half an hour.
The ethnic Serb minority of Kosovo abstained from voting in the April local elections held in the north of the country. As a result, ethnic Albanians were able to win control of the local councils despite a turnout of less than 3.5 percent.
A significant number of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo are pressing for the removal of Kosovo’s special police forces and the ethnic Albanian mayors whom they do not perceive to be legitimate representatives of their interests.
The United States of America, which has been Kosovo’s traditional friend and a proponent of the former province’s independence from Serbia, has criticized the administration in Pristina for “sharply and unnecessarily escalating tensions” by installing ethnic Albanian mayors. This was done in response to the government’s decision to install ethnic Albanian mayors.
Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, has stated that the authorities in Kosovo bear “responsibility” for the current situation.
On Thursday, on the sidelines of a meeting being held in Moldova, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are scheduled to meet with the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, as well as her Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic.
In 2008, Kosovo announced its independence from Serbia; nevertheless, Belgrade and its allies, China and Russia, continue to refuse to recognize the decision, which prevents Kosovo from holding a seat at the United Nations.
Ethnic Albanians make up the majority of Kosovo’s population, but the six percent or so of Serbs that live there have primarily maintained their allegiance to Belgrade. This is especially true in the north, where Serbs make up the majority of the population.