Conflicts & War

Ethnic Serbs protest against new mayors in northern Kosovo

Belgrade, May 29 (EFE).- Hundreds of ethnic Serbs in three northern Kosovar municipalities took to the streets on Monday to protest the appointment of ethnic Albanian mayors who won April elections that were boycotted by the Serbian residents.

Demonstrators demanded the removal of the mayors, as well as the Kosovo police units who on Friday used tear gas to disperse angry crowds who tried to prevent the officials from entering their offices in the Serb-populated towns.

NATO-led peacekeeping soldiers in Kosovo have been deployed among police units outside town halls in Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok to keep protesters from taking over.

“We are not leaving from here until our demands are fulfilled,” Goran Rakic of the Serbian List (SL), the main party of the country’s Serbian minority, said in Zvecan town.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov warned on Monday the escalations in Kosovo may create an explosive situation in central Europe.

During a surprise visit to the Kenyan capital Nairobi, Lavrov also drew attention to Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic’s decision to put the armed forces on standby and deploy units to the border with Kosovo.

Serbs in northern Kosovo have denounced that Kosovo authorities have been discriminating against their community and do not recognize the newly elected mayors.

The April elections, called after Serbs resigned from their positions in state institutions in November, were boycotted by the Serbian List, resulting in a 3% turnout in four northern Serb-majority municipalities.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008.

Serbia and Kosovo are currently negotiating a normalization of relations through a European Union-sponsored plan but have been interrupted by frequent tension outbreaks.

NATO, and countries such as France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States have criticized Kosovo for forcing the appointment of mayors, while Russia blames the West for the tense situation. EFE


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