ISSN 2330-717X

KFOR ‘Trying To Break Kosovo Serbs’, Mayor Says

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By Maryrose Fison

The mayor of Zvecan, Dragisa Milovic, says NATO peacekeepers were trying “to break” local Serb protesters manning a barricade at the border village of Jagnjenica.

Dragisa Milovic, Jagnejenica, Northern KosovoA Serb mayor in northern Kosovo told Balkan Insight yesterday that NATO peacekeepers were attempting to impose the authority of the Kosovo Albanian government in Pristina on his predominantly Serb region.

Speaking about KFOR’s recent action to start dismantling some Serb barricades in the area, Zvecan mayor Dragisa Milovic said: “This is a KFOR solution to break these people”.

The mayor said that the roadblocks, erected in protest against the Kosovo government’s deployment of customs officers on two border checkpoints, would remain in place until the customs officers had left.

“The barricades will be removed when Kosovo and [EU police] EULEX customs service officers leave Jarinje and Brnjak,” he said. If the Albanian customs officers don’t leave, these people will stay here as long as it takes,” he added.

“Our people have only [used] peaceful methods to defend their own interests against Kosovo Albanians,” he continued.

Milovic said that the mayors of the four Serb-majority northern municipalities of Kosovo, members of EULEX, and KFOR had met on Wednesday but no agreement had been reached on removing the barricades.

“Our local communities decided yesterday at the meeting with KFOR representatives to stop cooperating with EULEX,” the mayor recalled. “KFOR Major General Erhard Drews left the meeting so we didn’t accomplish an agreement with KFOR.”

Kosovo Serbs are angry with the EU mission for cooperating with the Pristina authorities over the deployment of Kosovo customs officials on the Serbian border.

Earlier, in Belgrade, Goran Bogdanovic, Serbian Minister for Kosovo, and Borislav Stefanovic, Serbia’s chief negotiator in Kosovo talks, called on Kosovo Serbs not to be provoked into violence following KFOR’s action.

Stefanovic also urged Serb representatives in northern Kosovo to resume talks with KFOR on freedom of movement.

Bogdanovic criticised KFOR’s action, saying it did not contribute to peace, normalization of relations or dialogue, and adding that Serbs would continue to fight peacefully for their legitimate interests.

“I appeal to KFOR not to use force in any way, as force is not the answer to the peaceful protests of the Serbian community,” Bogdanovic said on Thursday.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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