Centuries-Old Ethnic Tensions Threaten to Boil Over in Europe as 'Kremlin Tool' Acts


Representatives of the ethnic Serb minority in Kosovo on Saturday resigned from their posts in protest over the dismissal of a police officer who did not follow the government’s decision on vehicle license plates.

Earlier this week Pristina authorities dismissed a senior Serb police officer in northern Kosovo, where most of the ethnic Serbs live, who refused to respect the decision to change vehicle license plates in Kosovo to ones issued by Kosovo. The shift has ignited volatile issues about Kosovo’s sovereignty, especially among its Serb minority, many of whom still want the former Serb province to be part of Serbia and not independent.

Serbia itself has never recognized the independence of Kosovo.

As the measure came into effect Tuesday, Kosovo authorities said enforcement would be gradual. In three weeks Pristina authorities will be issuing warnings to the ethnic Serbs who keep their old license plates. For the next two months they will be fined, and the next three months they can drive only with replaced temporary local plates.

Ethnic Serbs have a government minister, 10 parliamentarians and other top posts in governing, police and judiciary in their four local communities. All resigned and senior police officers symbolically took off their uniforms Saturday. The effect of the mass resignation was unclear.

Outrage: Court Ruling Allows State to Seize Citizens for Indefinite Quarantine and Isolation - Due Process No More?

Both Pristina and Belgrade toughened their language and accused each other of violating the deals they have reached at E.U.-mediated negotiations. The European Union has told Kosovo and Serbia they must normalize ties if they want to advance toward membership in the 27-nation bloc.

Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani accused Belgrade of exerting pressure on Kovoso’s ethnic Serb minority.

“Such a move urged from Serbia proves again what we have repeated many times, that Serbia is destabilizing Kosovo and the region because of its territorial and hegemonistic goals,” said Osmani.

Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti called on the ethnic Serbs not to boycott the local institutions “not to fall prey of political manipulations and geo-political games.” Kurti claimed that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was lying to American and European envoys and “often meets with and coordinates with the Russian ambassador to Belgrade.”

Will we see more armed conflict in Europe?

“Not being a democratic country, Serbia is becoming a Kremlin tool,” Kurti posted on social media.

In Belgrade, Vucic attended a government session, met the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Porfirije, as well as the ambassadors of allies Russia and China, to discuss the situation in Kosovo. Vucic also spoke on the phone with the U.S. ambassador in Belgrade.

Vucic said Serbia is determined to strongly defend its vital national interests.

Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic accused Pristina authorities of increasing attacks “on Serbs … their property was illegally taken away, rare returnees were most brutally harassed and expelled again, innocent people arrested and convicted.”

Trouble brewed this summer over Serbia’s and Kosovo’s refusal to recognize each other’s identity documents and vehicle license plates. Kosovo Serbs in the north put up roadblocks, sounded air raid sirens and fired guns into the air.

Court Defies ICE, Releases Illegal Alien Charged with Rape, Assault

In August, E.U. and U.S. envoys negotiated a solution to the travel documents problem, allowing the situation to calm down.

Pristina also postponed to Nov. 1 the decision to require vehicles holding old or Serbian license plates to replace them with Kosovar ones. That also meant that vehicles entering from Serbia had to replace Serbian license plates with Kosovo ones.

For the past 11 years, the reverse has been required by Serbia for vehicles coming in from Kosovo.

Kosovo’s 2008 independence has been recognized by the United States and most EU countries, while Serbia has relied on support from Moscow and China for its bid to retain the former province.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , ,
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands. Photo credit: @AP on Twitter
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
New York City