Kosovar police confronted Serbian civilians on 13 October when the security forces had come to collect contraband goods in Mitrovica, a town cut in two, between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians.
Several Kosovar policemen and Serb civilians were injured on October 13 in northern Kosovo. The clashes follow anti-smuggling operations carried out by the Kosovar police in a predominantly Serb region. According to a police statement taken over by Reuters, ten of its officers were injured. According to the director of the Mitrovica hospital (north) quoted by AFP, a Serbian civilian was seriously wounded by gunshot and hospitalized while other Serbian civilians were injured by stone throwing.
These incidents represent a new outbreak of fever in the tense relations between Belgrade and Kosovo, which unilaterally proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008, and is recognized as a state by the United States and most Western countries, except by the United States. Serbia, Russia, China, India and Spain.
Most of those arrested are Albanians, most of those wanted are Albanians
North of Mitrovica, Serb protesters threw stones at the police and set two vehicles on fire. Kosovar police responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
Calm returned after the withdrawal of the Kosovar forces, who announced the arrest of eight people and the seizure of “goods for hundreds of thousands of euros” illegally entered the province of Kosovo without payment of taxes.
The police operation “directed against any nationality” in particular, reacts Pristina
Kosovar Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla explained that the police operation was “not directed against any nationality” in particular. “Most of those arrested are Albanians, most of those wanted are Albanians,” he added at a press conference in Pristina.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, meanwhile, rebelled against “certain Serbian media that protect crime, corruption and smuggling, and want to politicize and ethnicize them”. “Criminal groups will not be tolerated and will be fought. We will fight and prevent smuggling, ”he added on Facebook.
In a statement taken up by AFP, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić “called on the international community, NATO and KFOR [la force de l’OTAN chargée de la sécurité au Kosovo ] to react urgently ”because the situation in Mitrovica is“ more than dramatic ”. Also according to AFP, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic traveled to the town of Raska near Kosovo to meet with Serbian representatives from the province and assure them of his support. “We urge NATO to do its job, we urge the Albanians not to try to bring the Serbs in line with violence because we would be obliged to protect the lives of our children in Kosovo,” he said.
EU calls on Belgrade and Pristina to discuss in “the framework of the dialogue facilitated by the EU”
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, asserted that Brussels was “in contact with Belgrade and Pristina”, adding that “all outstanding issues must be dealt with within the framework of the dialogue facilitated by the EU ”. “The violent incidents in northern Kosovo must end immediately”, said the head of European diplomacy, on Twitter. “Unilateral and uncoordinated actions that endanger stability are unacceptable,” he added.
These clashes follow tensions caused by the decision of Pristina which, invoking a measure of “reciprocity”, had decided to ban Serbian license plates on its territory. Vehicles registered in Kosovo are in fact not recognized by Belgrade. As a result, they are forced to obtain temporary Serbian plates to enter Serbia.
In response, hundreds of Kosovo Serbs blocked roads while Belgrade deployed armored vehicles near the border. A temporary agreement on the plates negotiated in Brussels by the two parties, providing for the deployment for two weeks in the border area of KFOR had made it possible to unblock the situation.