From: Alice Taylor
War of Words Between Belgrade, Pristina after Serbs Resign from Kosovo Institutions

After all ethnic Serb representatives resigned from Kosovo institutions, Prime Minister Albin Kurti decried Serbian President Aleksander Vucic’s threats against the country, calling him a tool of the Kremlin as Serbs rally in the north.

On Saturday, Serb representatives resigned from parliament, the judiciary, Kosovo police, and all other state institutions. This came as they do not support a new rule which will oblige all people living in Kosovo to have license plates issued by Pristina. Serbs in the north of the country object and continue to use plates from the era of Slobodan Milosevic.

On Faceboook, Kurti wrote, “Serbia, not being a democratic country, is becoming a tool of the Kremlin… This is their personal battle for power, neither for the citizens nor for the state”.

He invited all ethnic Serbs in Kosovo to maintain peace, calm, and security and asked them not to boycott institutions.

“They serve all of us, each and every one of you. Do not fall prey to political manipulations and geopolitical games. Let’s all adhere to the democratic and European values ​​of the rule of law, human and minority rights and freedoms, political pluralism,” Kurti wrote.

On Sunday, the Serbian List called protests in North Mitrovica, a Serb-majority municipality in the north, to “show unity and to tell Europe, unanimously, that Serbia is their country.” In addition, Russian flags were spotted flying alongside Serbian ones with the slogan “Putin in Kosovo.”

Meanwhile, after the Serbian List deputies left, Vucic spoke with the US Ambassador to Belgrade, Christopher Hill. Vucic said they discussed the situation and Serbia’s commitment to peace.

“I reiterated that Serbia remains committed to maintaining peace, respecting public international law and fully implementing all signed agreements. I also emphasised the horror of the Serbs with the behaviur of Kosovo and the unilateral movements of Pristina, which call into question their security and stability in the entire region” Vucic wrote on Instagram.

Meanwhile, a deputy from the Kosovo ruling party, Vetevendosje, Haki Abazi said that everything happening in the north is part of a bluff by Belgrade. He also accused Serbia of sending weapons into the area.

“We have seen these behaviours of Belgrade in the 90’s, instrumentalising the Serbs of Croatia. These methods of manipulation and orchestration do not work and it must be understood that the time is for peace, normality and progress. This is what all the citizens of Kosovo want, without distinction,” he wrote on Facebook.

On Saturday, the leader of the Serbian List Goral Rakic said their decision to leave will be in place until Kosovo withdraws the license plate decision. Previously, Serb deputies have not attended parliament for around four months.

At the protest, he said Pristina must revoke the license plate decision and also allow the establishment of the Association of Serb Municipalities, an executive body parallel to the government of Kosovo which the country’s highest court ruled unconstitutional.

“With our resignations, we are defending the Brussels agreement and international law. Remember the fact that Albin Kurti, Vjosa Osmani and other leaders from Prishtina have repeated many times that for them, the Brussels agreement does not exist and that the Association of Serbian municipalities will never be established,” he said.

In fact, the Kosovo government have welcomed the establishment of the association but said it cannot have similar powers to the government and should instead be like an NGO.

In 2013, an agreement was signed between Kosovo and Serbia, facilitated by the EU, to see the inclusion of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo institutions. The current resignations have security risks for the country and represent a big step backwards in terms of integration.

President Vjosa Osmni called the resignations an attempt to destabilise the country, while Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic defended their move.

“In their struggle for peace, stability, rule of law and respect for all signed agreements, they will always have the full support of the Government of Serbia,” she said in a statement. (Alice Taylor |