After clashes between Serbs, the Kosovo authorities and their forces, NATO’s mission to Kosovo, KFOR has turned down a request from Serbia to send up to 1,000 soldiers and police to Kosovo by the Serbian government, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday (8 January).
After the 1998-1999 war, NATO bombed rump Yugoslavia (which included Serbia and Montenegro) to protect Kosovo’s Albanian-majority.
“They (KFOR), replied that they do not consider it necessary to return the Serbian army in Kosovo… citing the United Nations resolution appraising their mandate in Kosovo,” Vucic, Serbian, said in an interview with Pink TV.
In response to fighting between Kosovo authorities and Serbs living in the northern region, where they are a majority, Serbia requested to deploy troops to Kosovo last month.
According to the U.N. Security Council resolution, Serbia could be permitted, if KFOR approves, to place its personnel at border crossings and Orthodox Christian religious sites, as well as areas with Serb majority.
Vucic criticized KFOR for not informing Serbia about its decision on the Christian Orthodox Christmas Eve, after Kosovo police detained an off-duty soldier suspected of shooting and wounding two young Serbs close to Shterpce.
Police stated that both the victims were aged 11 and 21 years old and were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The incident was condemned by the Kosovo authorities, which inflamed tensions.
A few thousand Serbs peacefully protested in Shterpce on Sunday against “violence against Serbs”.
Goran Rakic (the head of the Serb List which is the main Serb party within Kosovo) accused Albin Kurti, Kosovo prime minister, of trying to drive out Serbs.
Rakic stated to the crowd that his goal was to create conditions so that Serbs can leave their homes. “My message to you is that we should not surrender.”
Serbian media reported on Saturday that another young man was beaten and attacked by a group from Albania. Meanwhile, media in Pristina reported late that the windscreen of a bus carrying Kosovo to Germany via Serbia was broken and attacked late that day.
International organizations condemned the attacks. They are expected to increase mistrust between majority ethnic Albanians, and approximately 100,000 ethnic Serbs who live in Kosovo. They are half of the population and refuse to recognize Kosovo’s independence.
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