By Igor Jovanovic and Linda Karadaku
Politicians from Serbia and Kosovo spoke the language of diplomacy on Friday (October 19th) after formal discussions with EU representatives in Brussels, but protests against the meeting by a Kosovo nationalist movement turned violent on Monday in Pristina.
Members of Kosovo Movement Vetevendisje clashed with Kosovo police in front of the government building in Pristina, trying to block the entrances. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.
More than 60 Vetevendosje protesters were detained, and several protesters and police were injured. Two of the protesters, a German citizen and a Vetevendosje member of the Kosovo Assembly, were injured seriously.
Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti accused the police of violating human rights.
“Police are violating the basic human rights with their big presence in the square, not allowing us to move freely,” Kurti said, adding that he was briefly stopped by police and then released during the protest.
Friday’s meeting between Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, Kosovo Premier Hashim Thaci and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton marked the beginning of high-level political dialogue, an important step for Belgrade’s path toward EU accession. One of the EU’s conditions for Serbia is the normalisation of relations with Kosovo.
The main slogan of the protesters was “No bargains with Serbia.” Kurti accused Thaci of “forgiving Serbia for the crimes it has committed in Kosovo, through shaking hands with Dacic.”
Thaci said objections to the meeting “are in accordance with the agenda of the opponents of the independence of Kosovo.”
In Serbia, Dacic drew criticism in Serbia over the meeting with Thaci, who is suspected of crimes against Serbs.
“No one can reprimand me for holding talks with Thaci, because I was at war with Thaci too, but my role as head of the government is not to repeat wars,” Dacic said.
Petar Petkovic, spokesperson of the opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, told SETimes that the meeting was “harmful to Serbian state interests.” He also criticised Dacic for going to Brussels without a platform for dialogue that was passed by the Serbian parliament.
But former Serbian President and leader of the Democratic Party, Boris Tadic, supported the negotations.
“Serbia cannot resolve the matter of Kosovo without support from the EU,” Tadic told Radio Television Serbia.
Dacic said Serbia was ready to discuss all issues, including the status of Kosovo, even though it did not see the other side demonstrating the same readiness. He added that Serbia is still not ready to recognise Kosovo’s independence.
“It is time for a historic agreement between the Serbs and the Albanians,” Dacic said. He did not specify what solution that kind of compromise could bring to Kosovo, but said that it must consider the interests of both the Serbs and the Albanians.
Thaci said the meeting with Dacic was necessary to begin resolving issues between Kosovo and Serbia.
“They are not easy processes, but I am working for our children, not to leave them the problems of the past,” Thaci said, according to Kosovo news agency Indeksonline.
SETimes correspondent Muhamet Brajshori in Pristina contributed to this report.