Following explosions and attacks amid preparations for elections to replace ethnic Serb representatives in institutions in the north of Kosovo, the head of EULEX, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark expressed concern over the situation.
Kosovo police said that masked individuals damaged the offices of municipal electoral commissions using, reportedly, Yugoslav-era hand grenades. The police said the incident happened when police were escorting electoral commission officials to an electoral event.
“All protests must be peaceful and everyone must remain calm and restrained,” said Wigemark on Twitter. He added EULEX would continue to monitor the situation in collaboration with the Kosovo police and KFOR.
Elections are set to be held on 18 December in the Serb-majority municipalities of Zvecan, Leopsavic, Zubin Potok and North Mitrovica after representatives resigned en masse in protest over Prishtina’s plans to ban Yugoslav-era license plates.
The Minister of Internal Affairs of Kosovo, Xhelal Sveçla, said that “organised groups, with some masked individuals” attacked the election officials and the policemen “with grenades and shots in the air.”
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said that there would be an increase in the police presence in the north. According to him, the attacks there are being carried out by “criminal gangs,” which are “paid and directed by Serbia.”
But the US Ambassador in Kosovo, Jeffery Hovenier, said that the conditions for an election to take place have not yet been created.
“The United States is concerned that the conditions have not been created at the moment for the elections to be held at the end of this month in the north of Kosovo,” he tweeted, adding that the safety of all citizens of Kosovo should be a priority.
The Minister of Defense of Serbia, Milosh Vucevic said the situation is very tense and the slightest incident could result in an undesirable situation,
“It is a very difficult situation. It is easy for us from Belgrade, Nis and Subotica to say what needs to be done. It is not easy to explain to the Serbian community in Kosovo how important it is to remain calm, not to fall into provocations, and on the other hand, not to be humiliated or devalued further, we must also understand their reactions, they do not have the same environment and life as other citizens of Serbia,” he said.
Vučevič said that Kurti’s government aims to ethnically cleanse the territory of Kosovo from the Serbs, using terror.