Tag Archive: Protests in Kosovo


November 24, 2018

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Tensions in Kosovo rose again Friday after police arrested three ethnic Serbs, including two police officers, on suspicion of involvement in the killing earlier this year of a leading Serb politician in the north of the country.

The three men were arrested in the Serb-dominated town of Mitrovica, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the capital, Pristina, as suspects in the January slaying of Oliver Ivanovic, police said in a statement. A fourth Serb was arrested for resisting police. A fifth person is still at large, police said.

Police said they seized evidence for the investigation into Ivanovic’s killing during raids in four locations. Police showed photos of a drone, automatic weapons and ammunition and other equipment found in the raids.

Prosecutor Syle Hoxha said they have questioned more than 40 witnesses to date in the case. Nobody has yet been charged in the slaying. Thousands of Serbs protested in Kosovo towns, some blocking all main roads leading to Northern Mitrovica, as well as several border posts with Serbia. No violence was immediately reported.

Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians fought a bloody war with Serbia from 1998-1999 which ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign in June 1999. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 which Belgrade still refuses to recognize.

Earlier this week, tensions soared after Kosovo failed to become a member of the international police organization, Interpol, following intense lobbying by Serbia. Kosovo slapped a 100 percent tax on goods imported from Serbia in apparent retaliation.

In Belgrade, Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic said the arrests were a “demonstration of force” that he said was designed to frighten the Serbs in Kosovo and avert attention from the taxes that Kosovo imposed in violation of a regional trade agreement.

“We must prepare ourselves for long-term support for our people (in Kosovo) that won’t be easy, simple or cheap,” said Vucic. “Serbia will not agree to new rules and new blackmail against our country and our people.”

Vucic spoke after a meeting with the members of the Serbian government. He held meetings earlier on Friday with security officials and the ambassadors or Russia and China, Serbia’s allies in its refusal to recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s Cabinet appealed for calm and said the police operation was not linked to any political development. NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo, a force known as KFOR, also urged calm and said “there was no unlawful operation or military action and there has never been any threat to safety and security of the citizens.”

KFOR said in a statement that the situation “remains stable and under control on the ground,” but acknowledged rising tensions “at political level due to some international and economic developments.”

Haradinaj met with ambassadors of Western powers including the United States, Britain, Germany, and France, for talks on the country’s situation and to explain the tax on Serb and Bosnian goods. Ethnic Serb leaders in Kosovo also called for calm and asked Serbia and the international community to assist them.

Goran Rakic, mayor of Northern Mitrovica, told The Associated Press that ethnic Serb leaders had formed a crisis center and called on the international community and Serbia for help. He said he had talked by phone with Vucic.

Vucic’s adviser Nikola Selakovic said the arrests of four Serbs in Kosovo were designed to “spread fear, intimidate and demonstrate force” against the Serbs in Kosovo. “This is a game of nerves, a walk on thin line. The goal is to provoke our reaction which would be immediately used for measures against us,” Selakovic said.

Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania. Dusan Stojanovic and Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade, Serbia. Bojan Slavkovic contributed from Northern Mitrovica.

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January 09, 2016

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Police in Kosovo used water cannons and tear gas to disperse a group of violent opposition supporters who pelted them with rocks and Molotov cocktails following an anti-government protest in the capital on Saturday.

The violence came at the end of a peaceful rally where several thousand people called on Kosovo’s government to resign, arguing the executive has broken the country’s constitution in reaching deals with Serbia and Montenegro last year.

At the end of the rally, some opposition supporters pelted police and the government building with rocks and other hard objects, despite calls from organizers to disperse peacefully. Part of a government building was set alight before officers intervened.

Police spokesman Baki Kelani said eight policemen, two citizens and two journalists were injured and 24 protesters were detained, adding two police cars and many other public and private properties were damaged.

In December Kosovo’s Constitutional Court decided that part of a deal between Kosovo and Serbia, which would give more powers to ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, was not in line with the country’s constitution.

The opposition also has opposed a border demarcation with neighboring Montenegro. Since September last year the opposition has blocked Kosovo’s parliament with tear gas, pepper spray, whistles and water bottles to protest the deals and their supporters have held violent protests in Pristina.

“To calm citizens Mustafa’s government should resign,” said an opposition statement. The government says the opposition wants to come to power through violence and has called on it to come to parliament to talk.

The president and the international community have also called for dialogue. The EU office in Kosovo condemned the “spiral of violence” and called for “calm and renouncement of violence” as the way forward for Kosovo.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, an act that Serbia still rejects. The two countries have been holding European Union-mediated talks to overcome their differences.

Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, contributed to this report.