Serbia issues warning to EU
The EU will lose all of its authority and credibility if it further insists on Kosovo Serbs removing the barricades that have been set up amid the latest tensions in the breakaway region, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Sunday. The bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has demanded that they do so, adding that the EU would not tolerate what he called “violent, criminal acts in the north” of Kosovo.
Brnabic accused the EU of neglecting outright the needs of Kosovo Serbs by saying that the bloc was only “paying attention… when they are on the barricades.” Erecting them was not just a demonstration of “discontent and despair” but a “call for peace and also a call for action [on the part of] the international community,” Brnabic maintained.
“Those people on the barricades are clearly voicing their protests, and they are doing it peacefully. The only way for them to be heard, unfortunately, is on the barricades," she added.
Hundreds of Serbs erected barricades blocking roads and impeding traffic at two major border crossings in the north of Kosovo on Saturday. The protests were sparked by the arrest of a former police officer whom Pristina accused of attacking Kosovo law enforcement patrols.
Tensions in the region had been again stirred up by Pristina’s decision to schedule snap elections in the four Serb-dominated communes for December 18. Major Serbian political parties then announced they would boycott any vote. As the barricades were erected, Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani announced a postponement of the vote until April.
With tensions running high, some media reports suggested that a “stun grenade” was thrown at an EU mission (EULEX) vehicle tasked with patrolling northern Kosovo. Although no injuries or damage was reported, the alleged incident sparked an angry reaction from Borrell.
“The EU will not tolerate attacks on EULEX … or use of violent, criminal acts in the north,” he said in a tweet, demanding the barricades in the region “be removed immediately by groups of Kosovo Serbs.” “All actors must avoid escalation,” he added.