European Western Balkans

Quint countries: Kosovo authorities to undertake no new measures to force access to the municipal buildings

Session of the Government of Kosovo; Photo: Facebook / Albin Kurti

PRISTINA – “We reiterate our 26 May statement condemning Kosovo’s decision to force access into municipal buildings in the north of Kosovo despite our repeated calls for restraint”, it is said in QUINT statement on the latest development in the north of Kosovo.

“In this context, the Quint and EU’s expectation is that the authorities of the Government of Kosovo will undertake no new measures to force access to the municipal buildings in Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan. The elected Mayors should also show restraint and take immediate action to demonstrate their commitment and responsibility to represent and serve all members of their communities”, the statement said.
They strongly caution all parties against other threats or actions which could impact on a safe and secure environment, including freedom of movement, and that could inflame tensions or promote conflict. “We are particularly concerned about the safety and welfare of civilians, police officers, EULEX, and KFOR members. New unilateral actions will negatively impact relations with the Quint countries and the EU”.
The Quint and EU emphasize in the statement that the EU-facilitated Dialogue is the path to the normalization of relations and EU accession. We remind the parties to work jointly on the next steps for the implementation of the Agreement reached between Kosovo and Serbia in February and March this year, including on the ASMM, and to take part constructively and sincerely in upcoming Dialogue meetings.

Stoltenberg: Prisitna must de-escalate and not take uniletaral steps

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke to High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell about the situation in Kosovo today. He urged Pristina not to take unilateral steps, KoSSev reported. 

“Pristina and Belgrade must engage in the EU-led dialogue now, as the only way to peace and normalisation. Pristina must de-escalate and not take unilateral, destabilising steps,” Stoltenberg tweeted.

The tweet particularly caught the attention of the Albanian users of this social network, who voiced numerous objections to it – from the fact that Stoltenberg wrote „Pristina“ instead of „Prishtina,“ while some users accused Serbia of genocide, others criticized the international community for supporting Serbia, and for supporting what Vjosa Osmani describes it as a „leveling policy“, and some users highlighted how Serbs are now moving peacefully and safely next to the Kosovo Police in Zvecan.

The reactions of international officials to incidents in the north of Kosovo continue. While some criticize Pristina for forcibly breaking into municipal buildings, others are appealing to both sides for calm.

US officials, including Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, were among the first to react. They strongly condemned the actions of the Kosovo government, especially the forcible entry into the buildings of the provisional authorities, which they described as a provocation. They also called on the Kosovo Prime Minister to stop violent measures and focus on dialogue.

KFOR called that action „forced entry of newly elected mayors into municipal buildings“ and described it as „extremely dangerous“ for the normalization process.

The German envoy, who urgently flew to the Balkans after the incident, also condemned Pristina’s move, underscoring that the EU will not allow stupid decisions to suppress the chance of implementing the Ohrid Agreement. Today, he is set to meet with the Prime Minister of Kosovo again.

On Friday evening, strong forces of the special units of the Kosovo Police assisted the new Albanian mayors in entering the municipal buildings in Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok, despite the objections of both the locals and the international community.

On the occasion, incidents broke out in which dozens of citizens sustained minor injuries, mostly from tear gas, along with five policemen. Four police vehicles were damaged, one of which was set on fire. Tear gas and stun grenades were used, and gunfire was heard in Zvecan, while citizens briefly set up barricades in Leposavic.

The Kosovo authorities, however, presented a differing account of the Friday events.

The Kosovo Interior Minister congratulated the police on their „professionalism“ in protecting institutions, the rule of law and democracy from „organized criminal groups“ and „gangs“.

The President of Kosovo assessed the actions of the Kosovo police toward „Vucic’s illegal structures and criminal groups“ as „legitimate“.
The Prime Minister of Kosovo thanked the special forces. Professional, fearless, despite the actions of para-political structures, Kurti said, emphasizing that the facilities in question are „properties of the Republic of Kosovo“.

Moreover, the PM claims that he „has the support of the international community“ and that „the work is going well,“ Kallxo writes.

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