Aleksandar Vucic urged Pristina and Western powers to avoid conflict, but vowed to use force if Serbs are persecuted
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Sunday accused the Kosovo Albanian government of wanting to suppress the local Serb population. He appealed for peace in the breakaway province, but added that Belgrade would not sit idly by if ethnic Serbs were targeted by another pogrom.
The “regime” in Pristina wants “to impose on the inhabitants of northern Kosovo and Metohija things that they have no right to impose”, Vucic said, using the Serbian name of the province. He added that Kosovo police were deployed on the administrative line with Serbia in order to confiscate Serbian documents and license plates, starting from midnight.
“The atmosphere has warmed up and the Serbs will not suffer any more atrocities,” he added. Vucic said in Belgrade on Sunday. “My appeal to everyone is to try to keep the peace at almost any cost. I ask the Albanians to come to their senses, the Serbs not to fall into provocations, but I also ask the representatives of powerful and greats, who recognized the so-called independence of Kosovo, to pay a little attention to the law and the reality on the ground and not to allow their wards to cause conflicts.
Vucic’s comments came as Pristina prepared to implement a controversial law requiring ethnic Serbs living in the disputed territory to replace their Serb-issued vehicle registrations with Kosovo plates, starting Monday. Kosovo may also require the replacement of other types of documents issued by Serbia, such as identity cards, and will again attempt to prohibit entry or issue temporary papers to travelers with documents or license plates issued by Serbia.
Church bells rang in the northern part of the province on Sunday amid reports that armed ethnic Albanians were gathering for another pogrom of remaining Serbs – as happened in 2004.
The Serbian president claimed last month that the registration policy was part of an effort to force remaining Serbs out of Kosovo. He called the move a “a new storm”, in reference to the 1995 Croatian military operation which forced most Serbs to flee Croatia.
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic told reporters on Saturday that “the Albanian part of Kosovo and Metohija is literally preparing to sow hell for the Serbs.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, an ethnic Albanian, denied that the transition to non-Serbian documents is anything other than the application “Law and Justice” also to all citizens.
In a video message, Kurti called out his government “democratic and progressive, who loves, respects and implements law and constitutionalism, peace and security, for all citizens without distinction and for all of our common homeland”, and urged everyone to trust their government and not fall into the trap “disinformation” from Belgrade.
Vucic claimed that “Provocation” against Serbs living in Kosovo have increased since Kurti, a nationalist who champions the idea of Albanian unification, became prime minister last year. The number of such incidents, including attacks by ethnic Albanians on Serbian cemeteries and Orthodox churches, jumped 50%, he told reporters on Sunday.
“We don’t want conflict and we don’t want war” Vucic said in his speech. “We will pray for peace and seek peace, but let me tell you right now: there will be no surrender, and Serbia will win. If they dare to start persecuting, harassing and killing Serbs, Serbia will win.
Vucic also speculated that Pristina is trying to take advantage of the Ukraine crisis by provoking a conflict in which Kurti would be portrayed sympathetically as the Kosovar version of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, with Serbs playing the part of Russia and President Vladimir Putin. .
NATO occupied Kosovo in 1999, after a 78-day air war against what was then Yugoslavia. The province declared independence in 2008, with Western support. While the United States and most of its allies have recognized this, Serbia, Russia, China and the UN in general have not.
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