Kosovo leader ‘dreams of war’ – Serbian president
The West knows it was the ethnic Albanian Kosovo police that started Monday’s riot in which 30 KFOR peacekeepers were hurt, but will nevertheless continue supporting Pristina, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday.
“The fight was started by the so-called Kosovo police, not NATO,” Vucic told Prva TV in a 90-minute interview. Ethnic Albanian police first seized two ethnic Serbs and shot another, who barely survived, he claimed, while “the only pictures we saw were of injured NATO soldiers.”
“Everyone in the West knows this was Pristina’s fault. But [Kosovo Prime Minister Albin] Kurti knows that whatever he does, the Americans, the Germans and the English will protect the so-called independence of Kosovo,” said Vucic.
Monday’s violence erupted at a Serb protest against the ethnic Albanian mayor of Zvecan, installed after an election that saw single-digit turnout due to a Serb boycott. Having previously declared the vote was legitimate, the EU has now asked Pristina to call new elections.
Despite the call for a new vote, Vucic said he was not optimistic, because “the conflict can escalate any day.” The EU has asked “both sides to start working” on something that ethnic Albanians were supposed to implement 10 years ago, Vucic argued.
“[Kurti] won’t stop sending special police” to the Serb-majority north of Kosovo, Vucic said. “I saw a good article by an Albanian today, who wrote that Kurti ‘dreams of war’. He wants to be [like Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky,” the Serbian president added.
“All they can talk about is sanctions against Russia,” Vucic said.
Speaking to the Washington Post on Thursday, Kurti accused Belgrade of inciting a “violent mob” in Kosovo. He argued that Pristina had no choice but to back the Albanian mayors, regardless of the boycott. “Who else can go in these offices?” he said.
NATO took control of Kosovo in 1999, after waging a 78-day air war against Serbia on behalf of ethnic Albanian separatists. The provisional government in Pristina declared independence in 2008, despite the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 affirming Serbia’s territorial integrity. Belgrade’s refusal to recognize the secession has been supported by about half the world’s countries, including Russia, China, and India.