NATO urges Kosovo to de-escalate with Serbia
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Kosovo and Serbia must engage in EU-led talks and avoid escalation after Pristina authorities attempted to install ethnically Albanian mayors in the north.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that Kosovo must not escalate or take unilateral decisions as he urged both Serbia and Kosovo to engage in EU-led talks.
"Pristina & Belgrade must engage in the EU-led dialogue now, as the only way to peace & normalization. Pristina must de-escalate & not take unilateral, destabilizing steps," Stoltenberg said through a social media post after holding talks with the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
This comes after local media reported on Friday that police forces of the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo forced their way into an administrative building belonging to the northern municipality of Leposaviq and occupied it after two other buildings were raided in Zvecan and Zubin Potok.
On May 26, ethnic Serbs gathered in front of the buildings to prevent the police and ethnically Albanian politicians from entering the buildings.
Pristina authorities have been attempting to install ethnically Albanian mayors after the April 23 local elections in northern Kosovo where polls were declared valid despite the turnover of less than 3.5%.
As a result, violent clashes erupted in front of the buildings, the Kosovo online news portal reported.
According to reports, the police used tear gas and stun grenades on protesters. Moreover, telephone services were shut off in Leposavic and alarm sirens blared in the northern municipality of Mitrovica.
About ten citizens who gathered to obstruct entry into the municipal buildings were wounded in the clashes. They are reportedly being hospitalized, the report adds.
Serbian Army on high alert
Yesterday Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic mobilized the army and ordered units to move close to Kosovo, the Tanjung Agency reported Saturday.
The Serbs of Kosovo, who consider the region to be part of mainland Serbia, boycotted the municipal elections and thus consider the mayor to be illegitimate.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced on Friday that the Serbian army was put on high alert because of the situation while also demanding that NATO "urgently stop violence against Serbs."
In early March, Vucic announced that he was not willing to recognize Kosovo's independence nor permit it to join the United Nations despite heightened EU pressure to isolate his country.
Serbia's leader also revealed that the European Union has threatened to isolate Serbia and pull out all investments if the proposed Kosovo agreement was discarded.