Albanian extremists plotting ‘provocations’ in Kosovo – Serbia
Ethnic Albanian “extremists” are plotting an attack on NATO and EU personnel in Kosovo, which will then be blamed on the province’s Serbian population, Defense Minister Milos Vucevic claimed on Sunday. Amid a standoff with Western-backed Kosovo authorities, he called on local Serbs to resist such “provocations.”
Serbs in the northern part of Kosovo erected barricades late last week to protect their communities against incursion by the majority-Albanian province’s security forces.
The standoff in the predominantly Serbian northern Kosovo was sparked by the arrest of a former police officer accused of attacking a Kosovo law enforcement patrol. Tensions were already running high after Pristina announced snap elections in the area, which were expected to be boycotted by all Serbian parties. On Saturday, Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani postponed the vote until April.
With the EU and Pristina demanding that the barricades be removed, Vucevic told Serbia’s TV Pink on Sunday that unnamed Albanian elements have devised a plan to spark violence.
“We received intelligence information that there is a plan, that extremist Albanians will change into civilian clothes, attack EULEX or KFOR and that it will be presented as an attack by Serbs,” he claimed, referring to the EU and NATO missions in Kosovo.
“That is why it is important that our people be as calm as possible, not to fall for provocations, and democratically defend their rights,” the Serbian defense minister continued, requesting that Serbs “do everything they can to avoid conflict.”
While Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday that he had received “assurances” from KFOR that it would not take violent action against the Serbs at the barricades, Vucevic accused NATO and EU personnel of standing by while Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, “creates an environment for Serbs to say they cannot survive” in Kosovo.
Kosovo has been occupied by NATO forces since the US and its allies forced its separation from Serbia via a military campaign in 1999. However, under Resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council, Belgrade has the right to send military and police personnel to Kosovo in certain situations, including in the event that the “peaceful and normal life” of its population there be threatened.
Vucic said on Saturday that he will seek permission from KFOR to deploy Serbian forces under this resolution. However, he conceded that this request will likely be denied. Vucevic seconded this, telling Tv Pink on Sunday that “Pristina does not respect any of its obligations, and partly neither does the international community.”