Wednesday , March 22 2023

Serbian troops on high alert over Kosovo tensions


BELGRADE: The Serbian army says it is at its “highest level of combat readiness” after weeks of escalating tensions between Serbia and Kosovo.

President Aleksandar Vucic says he will “take all measures to protect our people and preserve Serbia”.

The saber-rattling is louder than ever and follows media claims that Pristina is preparing “an attack” on ethnic Serb areas in north Kosovo.

The government in Pristina has made no comment about the allegations but it has previously accused Vucic of playing “games” to stir up trouble.

The European Union has been attempting to mediate.

The 27-member bloc is calling for “maximum restraint and immediate action” and for the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to “personally contribute to a political solution”.

Tensions have risen in recent weeks between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian-led government and the minority ethnic Serb population. Kosovo, which has an overwhelmingly ethnic Albanian majority, broke away from Serbia after a war in 1998-99.

Kosovo: Why is trouble flaring up again?

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state, nor do the ethnic Serbs who live there.

Belgrade has increased its armed presence on the border in recent days after conflicting reports about a shooting incident in which no-one was hurt. Reports from Belgrade alleged ethnic Serbs had come under attack, but the claim was rejected by Kosovo authorities in Pristina.

Nevertheless, Serbia appeared to use the reports to justify intensifying its military presence on the border.

Nato, which has some 3,700 peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, has called on all parties to avoid provocations. For years, its KFOR troops have played a crucial role in guaranteeing the peace

The European Union, which has a rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, has warned it will not tolerate attacks on EU police or criminal acts.

Last week, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said “we are really on the brink of armed conflicts” and blamed Pristina for making unilateral moves. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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