After clashes in Kosovo: Serbia puts the army on standby – Politics

After clashes in Kosovo: Serbia puts the army on standby – Politics

After clashes in a Serb-majority town in Kosovo Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has put his country’s army on standby. In addition, troops should be moved closer to the border with Kosovo. Serbian Defense Minister Miloš Vučević spoke on television about an urgent measure and said: “It is clear that terror is being perpetrated against the Serb community in Kosovo.”

The Kosovar police in Zvečan had previously used tear gas against a crowd who wanted to prevent the arrival of a new, Kosovan-Albanian mayor. The police reported five injured officers, local Serbian health authorities reported ten slightly injured people.

About 50,000 Serbians live in four northern municipalities of Kosovo, including Zvečan. They boycotted the local elections on April 23 – the turnout was 3.5 percent – and refused to cooperate with the new four Albanian mayors. The leadership in the capital Pristina accounted for the unrest on Friday Belgrade responsible. “Serbia’s illegal and criminal structures in northern Kosovo were given the order to escalate the situation on the ground,” Blerim Vela, chief of staff to Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani, wrote on Twitter.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attempt by the authorities in Kosovo to use force to gain access to the official buildings. This action went against US and European advice, has “drastically and unnecessarily” increased tensions and will “have an impact on our bilateral relations with Kosovo”.

Tensions with the Serbian minority in northern Kosovo have repeatedly arisen. Kosovo declared independence from in 2008 Serbia. However, the government in Belgrade did not recognize independence. The Serbs living in Kosovo also see themselves as part of the neighboring country. The ongoing dispute between the former Yugoslav republic of Serbia and its former province of Kosovo is an obstacle on the way for both states to join the European Union. In a joint statement, Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain and the USA called for restraint from all parties and a de-escalation of the situation, as the Federal Foreign Office announced.

Serbian President Vučić resigns from party leadership

Serbian President Vučić, meanwhile, announced his resignation from the presidency of his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). “This is the last evening that I will speak to you as chairman of the SNS,” he told a mass rally of the nationalist presidential party in Belgrade on Friday. The SNS is holding a party conference on Saturday. Vučić did not announce who should succeed him as the leader of the party. Since 2012, the President has determined the fate of the country in various functions. Critics accuse him of an authoritarian style of government. His resignation from the top of the SNS is of little consequence. Vučić and his followers control most of the media, the judiciary and part of the economy.

At the beginning of the month, however, two rampages that killed 18 people shook Serbian society. During protests, Vučić opponents questioned responsibility and demanded consequences. The opposition pointed to the president’s aggressive rhetoric towards political opponents and to the tabloid media, which, in their view, downplayed the violence of criminals and at the same time gave Vučić a stage.

He recently showed visible nervousness because of the protests. He had organized the major rally in Belgrade to demonstrate the stability of his power. Buses from all over Serbia, but also from neighboring countries with Serbian populations, brought the participants to the capital. The media reported pressure on state officials to travel to Belgrade, even against their will. Vučić had previously described the rally as the “largest people’s gathering in Serbia’s history” and promised at least 140,000 participants. According to observations by a dpa reporter and independent Serbian media, tens of thousands came to the event in central Serbia.

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