Situation in North Kosovo still tense – border crossing closed

The tension in Kosovo and Metohija has not decreased after the conflict between Serbs and the Kosovo Police on Sunday morning in the village of Banjska.

 Four attackers and one member of the Kosovo police were killed in the conflict. Access to the village is still blocked, while three more Serbs were arrested yesterday, the Serbian government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija stated. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow will be days of mourning in Serbian communities in Kosovo and Metohija. The Government of Serbia has declared Wednesday the day of mourning throughout Serbia. Kosovo President, Vjosa Osmani, also declared a day of mourning in Kosovo.

The Serbian government-backed Serb List issued a press release on Monday, extending the deepest condolences to the families of the killed Serbs and Kosovo police officer.

“On behalf of the Serb list and all Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, we extend the deepest condolences to the families of the killed Serbs and ethnic Albanian Kosovo police officer, who lost their lives in yesterday’s tragic event in the village of Banjska in the Zvecan municipality, said the Serb List and adds: “We will ask for an investigation into the murder of at least two Serbs who were killed in cold blood, even though they had surrendered. We ask the international community why EULEX failed to take part in the operation instead of just (Kosovo Prime Minister Albin) Kurti’s police?”

The Serb List also called for restraint.

“We call for peace and for all to show restraint because peace needs to return to our streets as soon as possible and, to this end, we need for KFOR and EULEX to be immediately deployed in the north and for them to prevent the situation from escalating further and to prevent political abuse of this tragic event. For over a year we have been warning that the regime in Pristina is exerting pressure on the Serbs, escalating the situation on a daily basis and provoking the people. We have asked countless times for KFOR to deploy its troops and act preventively, we have asked the international community to curb Kurti, and we have called for peace…But in vain. Unfortunately, what has happened is what Kurti had hoped for,” said the Serb List.

On the other side, Kosovo PM, Albin Kurti, showed photographs of what he said were weapons and equipment seized in a police operation following the armed incident at the Banjska monastery.

Kurti also accused Belgrade of sponsoring terrorism in Kosovo.

“These military-grade arms & equipment—seized in Kosovo Police’s anti-terror operation after yesterday’s attack—leave no room for doubt: The perpetrators acted not alone but with state backing. Serbia must be held fully accountable for sponsoring terrorist violence on Kosovo territory,” he wrote in a post on X (former Twitter).

Two major Serbian opposition parties called the Serbian authorities headed by President Aleksandar Vucic to explain exactly what happened at the Banjska monastery and warned that the incident gives the authorities in Pristina an excuse to refuse to implement agreements.

The Freedom and Justice Party (SSP) said that the Kosovo Serbs have been left to the mercy of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s crazed regime which is waging open terror against them.

“The incompetence of Vučić, (security agency chief Aleksandar) Vulin and (Defence Minister Milos) Vučević and other incompetent SNS officials and cooperation with criminals who have become the richest people in Serbia while “defending” the Serbian people in Kosovo, the Kosovo Serbs have been left at the mercy of the crazed Kurti regime which is waging open terror against them. We sharply condemn all violence against the people who are hostages to the irresponsible decisions of politicians,” the SSP said in a statement.

The international community is also asking for the matter to be finally resolved with Miroslav Lajčak, European Union (EU) Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, meeting with the European chief diplomatic advisors and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar.

“Intense and very substantial consultations with chief diplomatic advisers (to the French President, Emmanuel) Bonne, (Foreign Policy and Security Advisor to German Chancellor, Jens) Plotner, (Diplomatic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Italy, Francesco) Talo and DAS Escobar. We discussed the next steps in the implementation of the Agreement on the Path to Normalisation and the situation in the north of Kosovo. Grateful for the full support,” Lajcak wrote in a post on X following the meeting.

(RTS, N1, 26.09.2023)

Photo credits: Beta/AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu

This post is also available in: Italiano

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