Police in Kosovo have fired tear gas at small groups of Serbs trying to block entrances to municipal buildings.

Small groups of Serbs in northern Kosovo clashed with police as they tried to block the entrance to municipal buildings to prevent recently elected officials from entering, according to local media.

Police fired tear gas and set several cars on fire on Friday.

In response to the clashes, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a written statement carried by state television RTS that he had put the army on “high alert”.

Vucic also said he had ordered an “urgent” movement of Serb forces to the border with Kosovo.

Media reports also said that because of the “violence” against Kosovo Serbs, Vucic demanded that NATO-led forces stationed in Kosovo protect them from the Kosovo police.

Kosovo police officers patrol the bridge separating southern Albanians from the northern Serb-held part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica.
Kosovo police officers patrol the bridge separating southern Albanians from the northern Serb-held part of the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo [File: Visar Kryeziu/AP]

The Kosovo Police acknowledged its increased presence in the north “to assist the mayors of the northern municipalities of Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok to exercise their right to work in official positions”.

The new mayors of three municipalities in northern Kosovo, which are predominantly populated by Serbs who are a minority in the larger country, have been denied entry to buildings by small groups of Serbs raising their hands at the entrance to the municipalities, apparently in Albanian website indexonline.net. He points out that they were not there to take part in the violence, and also shows the photos.

In Zvecan, the Kosovo website showed clashes with police in front of the public building, while in Leposavic, they also blocked the main square with cars and trucks.

Earlier, Serbs also sounded sirens in the four municipalities, including the main northern town of Mitrovica, in a warning signal and a call to rally.

local elections

Early elections on 23 April were largely boycotted by Serbs, and only ethnic Albanians or other representatives of smaller minorities were elected to municipal councils and councils.

Local elections were held in four Serb-dominated municipalities in northern Kosovo after Serb representatives left office in protest last year and the Serb community demanded the creation of a promised League of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo, which would coordinate work in education, health care, land planning and economic development at the local level.

With Kosovo Serbs claiming autonomy, Kosovo Albanians fear the federation will turn into a new mini-state like Republika Srpska in Bosnia.

The creation of the assembly was originally part of the 2013 Pristina-Belgrade Agreement, but was later announced by the Constitutional Court of Kosovo, which ruled that it did not include other ethnicities and could necessitate the use of executive powers to enforce laws.

Both sides initially agreed to support the EU’s Plan Forward, but tensions continued to mount.

Both the United States and the European Union are pressing Kosovo on the issue of accession.

The United States and the European Union stepped up their efforts to help Resolve the conflict between Kosovo and SerbiaFearing more instability in Europe as the war rages in Ukraine.

The EU has made it clear to both Serbia and Kosovo that they must normalize relations in order to advance their intentions to join the bloc.

Conflict broke out in Kosovo in 1998 when separatist Albanians rebelled against Serbian rule, and Serbia responded with brutal repression.

About 13,000 people died, most of them Albanians.

Ultimately, NATO’s military intervention in 1999 forced Serbia to withdraw from the territory.

Washington and most of the European Union countries recognized Kosovo Independent countryBut Serbia, Russia and China have not.

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