Following clashes between NATO-led peacekeeping troops and ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, measures have been taken to secure a northern town. Metal fences and barbed wire barriers were installed in Zvecan. A city located 45 kilometres north of Pristina after hundreds of ethnic Serbs gathered in front of the city hall. The ethnic Serbs were protesting the presence of ethnic Albanian mayors who recently assumed office in one of the municipalities. In response to the clashes that resulted in 30 international soldiers being wounded, NATO has decided to deploy an additional 700 troops to northern Kosovo to help suppress violent protests.
The conflict arose when ethnic Albanian officials, who were elected in a vote boycotted by Serbs, entered municipal buildings to take office. Attempts by Serbs to block them led to the use of tear gas by Kosovo police. Which escalated into clashes with NATO-led troops. The ethnic Serbs have demanded the departure of both ethnic Albanian mayors and Kosovo police from northern Kosovo.
In response to the situation, Serbia has placed its military on the highest state of alert and dispatched more troops to the border with Kosovo. Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared independence in 2008, a move not recognized by Belgrade. While ethnic Albanians constitute the majority of the population in Kosovo, there is a restive Serb minority residing in the northern region bordering Serbia. The ongoing tensions and clashes highlight the challenges in maintaining peace and stability in the area.
Tensions Rise in Kosovo: U.S. Cancels Military Drill
The US, a strong supporter of Kosovo’s independence, has decided to cancel Kosovo’s participation in a military drill. Which is after Pristina refused to withdraw its mayors and police forces from the northern region. The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo, Jeffrey Hovenier, stated that they are considering other implications as well. European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has called on leaders from both Kosovo and Serbia to find a way to de-escalate tensions. Emphasizing the need to avoid further conflict in Europe.
Russia, which has historical ties with Serbia and shares cultural and religious similarities, has called for decisive measures to calm the unrest. The Russian foreign ministry criticized the West. Urging them to stop blaming incidents in Kosovo on Serbs and to end what they perceive as false propaganda. Kosovo authorities have accused Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic of destabilizing Kosovo. While Vucic blames Kosovo authorities for creating problems by installing new mayors.
Following a meeting with ambassadors from the Quint group in Belgrade, Vucic stated that he had requested the removal of Albanian mayors from their offices in the northern region. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani has claimed that criminal gangs supported by Vucic are seeking to destabilize not only Kosovo but the entire region.