Serbia ‘urgently’ moves army to Kosovo border – minister – Reuters
Belgrade’s decision was prompted by the latest clashes in the breakaway province of Kosovo
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has placed the national armed forces on high alert and ordered units to move towards the administrative line separating the breakaway province of Kosovo from the rest of the country. The move comes following clashes between police and protesters in a Serb-majority town in the region on Friday.
“An urgent movement of forces towards the Kosovo border has been ordered”, Defense Minister Milos Vucevic confirmed in a TV broadcast, adding that it was clear that “terror against the Serbian community in Kosovo” continues.
Vucevic said the security of Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija was threatened by the region’s Albanian prime minister, Albin Kurti. He called on citizens to remain as calm as possible and not fall into provocations.
Earlier in the day, Serbs in the town of Zvecan clashed with police as a newly elected Albanian mayor prepared to take office after local elections. Votes in four municipalities were boycotted by the majority Serb residents who demanded more autonomy and representation and saw the votes as an attempt to take over Serbian municipalities by illegitimate representatives. Voter turnout on April 23 was just 3.47%, with residents saying they would not work with newly elected officials.
According to local media, Pristina police used stun grenades and fired tear gas at protesters who had gathered outside an administrative building, while Reuters reported that a police car was set on fire.
#Serbia President Vucic placed the army on combat alert and ordered his units to close in on the border with #Kosovo after clashes between protesters and police in a Serb-majority town in Kosovo. Clashes in the town of Zvecan erupted after a crowd gathered outside the… pic.twitter.com/XaFEAccBzD
— Guy Elster (@guyelster) May 26, 2023
In Zvecan, one of the Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo, a @Kosovo_Police car was set on fire as Kosovo Serbs rebel against Albanian mayors entering municipality buildings following election boycott by Belgrade-aligned structures.pic.twitter.com/2sjH2DrXLz
— Jakub Bielamowicz (@KubaBielamowicz) May 26, 2023
RT Balkan reported that a dozen people were admitted to hospital with minor injuries.
Vucevic told Pink TV that what President Vucic had been warning the international community about for days and weeks is now “turned out to be true”, accusing Pristina of aggravating tensions and inciting terror against Serbs.
“Someone has to understand that what Albin Kurti is doing is leading us to red lines and a complete breakdown of dialogue and escalation on the pitch,” says Vucevic.
Last Friday, Vucic said that Serbia’s refusal to acquiesce to Western demands and recognize Kosovo’s independence had made his country a target of foreign interference, but that he “never surrender” and would be “Never let them make Kosovo independent.”
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 with the support of the United States and many of its allies. The separatist region is not recognized by several countries, including Russia and China, nor by Serbia itself.
However, the EU has repeatedly called for Belgrade to recognize and “normalize” relations with Pristina if she wants to become a member of the bloc.
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