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Home World News Washington Post World News Kosovo: Serbia instigates minority protests to destabilize

Kosovo: Serbia instigates minority protests to destabilize

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — The government of Kosovo accused neighboring Serbia early Monday of trying to destabilize the country as ethnic Serbs blocked roads and carried out other incidents in the north, apparently in a dispute over license plates and identity cards.

Kosovo officials had decided to resume the practice of requiring vehicles entering from Serbia to replace Serbian number plates with Kosovo plates. The reverse is required by Serbia for vehicles from Kosovo going to Serbia.

Kosovo also plans to ban its ethnic Serb minority from using only Serbian identity cards when crossing the border.

A statement by the government of Kosovo said many “aggressive acts” were committed on Sunday, such as roadblocks and shootings in northern areas dominated by ethnic Serbs, and accused Serbia of inciting them.

After discussions with European and US partners, the plan for “reciprocity” license plate and identity card was postponed by a month, until September 1, the government said.

Kosovo was part of Serbia until an armed uprising in 1998-99 by the ethnic Albanian majority of the area led to a bloody crackdown by Serbs. A NATO bombing campaign to drive Serbian troops out of Kosovo ended the war. But Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani blamed Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for the protests.

“Vucic and (Petar) Petkovic are the main ones responsible for the riots,” Kurti wrote on Facebook. Petkovic is the official of Belgrade responsible for Kosovo.

Osmani also wrote on Facebook that “Vucic’s efforts to destabilize Kosovo” would fail.

Vucic responded by saying that “we have never been in a more complex situation than today” and blamed Kosovo for mounting tensions over license plates and ID cards.

He accused Kosovo of trying to victimize itself and “taking advantage of the mood in the world they think they can play in,” he said, saying Kurti is trying to be seen in the same light as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. .

Vukic said Kosovo cannot stop its ethnic Serbs from using Serbian identity cards when crossing the border.

The NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo said it was monitoring the “tense” situation in northern Kosovo and was “ready to intervene if stability is threatened”.

The force said it would “take all measures necessary to maintain a safe and secure environment in Kosovo at all times, in accordance with its UN mandate.”

The mission, with some 3,800 soldiers from 28 countries, is led by NATO but supported by the United Nations, the European Union and others.

Semini reported from Tirana, Albania.



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