The Prime Minister of Kosovo accused Serbia of trying to “provoke a serious international conflict” after the vehicle registration office near the border was attacked.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti accused neighbouring Serbia of trying to “provoke serious international conflicts” after two vehicle registration offices near the border were attacked.
The increased tension early on Saturday occurred on the sixth day of Serb protests against the Albanian-led government’s decision to require drivers with Serbian license plates to wear temporary license plates when entering Kosovo.
The Prime Minister stated that one registry office in Zubin Potok town was set on fire and another one in Zvecan was destroyed, but there were no casualties.
The Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla wrote on Facebook that the fire that burned down the Zubin Potok vehicle registration office was “committed by the suspect and terrorists”.
Since Monday, Kosovo Serbs have been using trucks to block the Kosovo-Serbia border. They are angry that Kosovo has sent special police to match Serbia’s license plates, which has exacerbated tensions in the Balkans.
Kosovo has now cancelled the license plates of cars entering the country from Serbia, just as Serbia did with Kosovo license plates. They all force drivers to buy temporary license plates.
Serbia does not recognize its former Kosovo Province as a separate country and only considers its mutual borders as temporary borders.
Serbia has placed its troops in areas near Kosovo on high alert. National RTS TV reported on Saturday that Serbian military aircraft flew over the border area twice during the day, arousing cheers from the protesting Serbs.
According to Al Jazeera’s Boris Gajic, on Friday, Serbian military helicopters were also seen flying over the area.
“The activities of individuals and groups endanger the rule of law and public order, are attacking our country and disrupt our peace,” Kurti said on his Facebook account on Saturday.
“Serbia is encouraging them and clearly supporting them,” he added. “Serbia abuses Kosovo citizens to provoke serious international conflict.”
Serbian President Alexander Vucic described Kosovo’s recent license plate move as a “criminal act” and he made the withdrawal of all Kosovo special police officers a condition for the EU to mediate and negotiate a settlement of the dispute.
But after Saturday’s incident, the Kosovo government didn’t sound ready to bring back the special police.
The Interior Minister Svekla wrote on Facebook: “These criminal acts best illustrate what will happen at the Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings unless special forces are sent to ensure public order and safety.”
The European Union and the United States urge Kosovo and Serbia to exercise restraint immediately and refrain from unilateral actions.
Kosovo’s President Vossa Osmani called on the world to “don’t ignore what is clearly (is) seeing-Russia-Serbia’s tendency to undermine the European Union and NATO” and increase tensions in the Balkans.
“Now is the time for the international community, first of all, the EU and NATO member states see this danger and prevent the Vucic regime from achieving its goal of creating a’Serbian World’,” she wrote on Facebook. York at the UN General Assembly.
The bloody suppression of Kosovo Albanian separatists by the Serbian army from 1998 to 1999 ended after NATO intervention, and Kosovo declared independence in 2008.
It has been recognized by the United States and other Western countries, but not by Serbia and its allies Russia and China.
Thousands of NATO peacekeepers, including the US military, are still deployed in Kosovo, trying to avoid the lingering ethnic tensions between the majority Kosovo Albanians and the minority Kosovo Serbs.