Serbs quit duties in Kosovo institutions and tensions peak as Kurti accuses Vucic of attempting to oppose Franco-German proposal. Reactions from the EU, USA, Russia, NATO and Albania

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All Serbian representatives in the Republic of Kosovo’s institutions have resigned their duties. This was decided at a meeting organized by the Serbian List on Saturday at noon in Zveçan.

Serbs are represented in the Government of Kosovo via a minister, ten MPs in the Parliament of Kosovo, with mayors in cities where Serb inhabitants are a majority, in courts, and the police. It was decided that all of these persons will quit Kosovo’s institutions.

The MPs of the largest political organization of the Serbs in Kosovo renounced their seats to the Parliament after quitting all of the local institutions.

In an email sent to the address of Kosovo’s parliament, the 11 MPs announce their resignation in protest of the government’s plan to register vehicles of Serbian license plates.

The Head of the Serbian list, however, told officials that they would keep receiving their salaries from Serbia, as the Serbian President, Alexandar Vucic, also stated that the Serbian people in Kosovo will never remain without support.

The Serbian List’s decision to leave Kosovo’s institutions occurred following the suspension of the police director for the north, Nenad Gjuriq, who refused to implement the Government of Kosovo’s decision on the re-registration of cars with Serbian license plates in the Republic of Kosovo.

Goran Rakic, the leader of the Serbian List, stated a day ago that the choice to remain outside the institutions will be maintained until the Kosovo government withdraws the license plate decision and follows the agreements agreed in Brussels.

Meanwhile, the Serbian government met behind closed doors in Belgrade to examine the situation in Kosovo. Following the conclusion, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic used his Instagram account to state that he will not abandon his responsible policy of peace and stability. “Thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to enlighten you about the situation in which Serbia finds itself; we will not abandon our responsible policy of peace and stability,” Vucic wrote.

The US is concerned about the situation in Kosovo: Pristina and Belgrade should reduce tensions

The United States of America believes that recent events in Kosovo-Serbia relations are troubling and jeopardize the significant progress made in the dialogue mediated by the EU. This is what an American Embassy spokeswoman in Pristina informed Kosova Press.

According to him, the United States is calling on representatives of Serbia and Kosovo Serbs to follow their dialogue obligations and return to Kosovo institutions to fulfill their duties. These institutions include the police, the courts, and local administrations. This request is being made in conjunction with the European Union.

The American spokesperson in Pristina has also stated that it is the responsibility of both parties to ensure peace and stability on the ground. He noted that the US once again requested that the decision on license plates and the formation of the association of towns with a Serbian majority be postponed.

“Actions such as burning cars or threatening speech are unacceptable and will elicit an appropriate response from the international community; all parties involved must take steps to decrease tensions and guarantee peace and stability on the ground; actions and rhetoric that heighten the possibility of violence put innocent lives and those of international peacekeeping forces on the ground at undue risk,” he said.

Resignation of Serbs from institutions, Borrell: Kosovo should suspend the decision on license plates and establish an association of Serbian Communes

Following the most recent decision by the Serbian List to leave the institutions, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, met by phone with the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and the head of the Serbs, Aleksandr Vucic, raising tensions further between the two countries while the West seeks a deal between them.

During the separate conversations, a senior EU official urged the two leaders of the respective countries to avoid any unilateral action that would aggravate the matter. He says that the Serbs’ current actions jeopardize several years of work in the framework of the dialogue.

“Recent developments in Kosovo-Serbia ties jeopardize the years of hard work and gains gained through the EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and aggravate the security situation in the region and beyond.”

Furthermore, Josep Borrell requested that the Kosovo government defer the decision on license plates and quickly begin the process of establishing the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority.

“We call on Serbia and the representatives of the Kosovo Serbs to fulfill their commitments and return to the institutions of Kosovo. At the same time, the EU invites the Kosovo authorities to respect their obligations immediately, which implies the immediate extension of the car re-registration process and the suspension of any punitive action.

EU: Tensions in Kosovo might extend throughout the region

Following the situation in Kosovo’s north, the European Union has called for a European solution. According to Peter Stano, EU Foreign Affairs and Security spokesperson, tensions between Kosovo and Serbia can have a severe influence on the entire area. Stano stated at a press conference that the objective at the moment is to settle the situation on the ground.

“Over the past few days, we have witnessed very hazardous escalation and events that are putting years of hard work and achievement at risk. This has ramifications not just for Serbia and Kosovo, but also for the entire region, said Stano. “We are still reviewing the evaluation by the parties, but for the moment the priority is to de-escalate the situation on the ground.”

“Whenever there is local instability, the local instability is exported, and there are consequences and implications in the wider region as well.” “We see it in the case of Russia and Ukraine. There is a brutal illegal military attack by one country against another country, and the consequences are not limited to these two countries; the consequences are affecting the entire world.”

“As a result, we are urging both parties to fulfill their responsibilities in order to find a European solution.” On Saturday evening, High Representative Borrel made a statement about the current developments and the expectations of the European Union and its member states from both sides, Serbia and Kosovo… The European Union is attempting to persuade Kosovo and Serbia to fulfill their obligations, to find a European solution to de-escalate the current situation, and to participate meaningfully in talks mediated by the EU, because this is the only way out of the current deadlock and escalation. And this is a path that will lead to both parties’ EU perspectives,” he added.

Concerning the association of municipalities with a Serbian majority, the European Union spokesperson urged Kosovo to take prompt action to form it, claiming that failure to do so breaches not just the idea of the rule of law but also Kosovo’s reputation.

“Kosovo has a clear obligation to establish, or take prompt efforts to establish, this Association or Community. This is a mandatory legal requirement for Kosovo, and continuing non-compliance with this obligation not only contradicts the premise of the rule of law in Kosovo, but also harms the country’s reputation and credibility. So it is now up to both parties, Serbia and Kosovo, to implement their pledges and obligations emanating from the Brussels agreements and the dialogue agreements. Borrell, the high representative, was in contact and spoke with President Vucic and Prime Minister Kurti over the weekend,” he stated.

NATO “criticizes” Kurti and Vucic for recent tensions, while Russia claims the West is pressuring them to go to war

NATO has engaged in the ongoing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, urging both parties to exercise moderation.

“I discussed the severe situation in Kosovo’s north with Aleksandr Vucic and Albin Kurti. I asked both of them to desist from any unilateral action that could lead to an escalation,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stolteneberg.

He also revealed that during their phone call, he counseled the two leaders to focus on discussion as the only way ahead.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has also expressed alarm over the tensions between Pristina and Belgrade, accusing the West of pushing Kosovo and Serbia towards direct conflict.

The Russian Foreign Ministry highlights in a statement that Belgrade took a positive approach to the present crisis and accuses Pristina of a series of provocations that exacerbated ethnic tensions.

Vucic does not want Albanians in the north, meets with Russian and Chinese representatives, , NATO: In the event of an escalation, KFOR is ready

After the Serbs’ decision to leave all of the country’s institutions, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic expressed hope that KFOR and EULEX will carry out police activity in the north of Kosovo; otherwise, he warns, the situation could deteriorate into a disaster.

“I believe that anything like this will help to bring about peace.” If the Americans believe that the Albanians can accomplish this work, and it is not in accordance with the Brussels agreement and the will of the people, I am worried that this situation will end in disaster,” Vucic told his country’s media.

The President of Serbia also stated that he hopes NATO will prevent Kosovo from sending special forces to the north, while adding that Belgrade must act properly in what he called a difficult time. “We’re talking about tectonic political changes,” he remarked.

According to Vucic, American and European representatives promised him that they would deal with Kurti, delaying Pristina’s decision on license plates by a year, but this did not happen. He stated that the Serbs will not return to Kosovo’s institutions until an association of municipalities with a Serbian majority is formed.

Meanwhile, Vucic met with representatives from its two most important allies, Moscow and Beijing, in Belgrade.

Vucic initially met with Russian Ambassador Aleksandar Bocan-Harchenko, with whom he reportedly discussed the situation in Kosovo.

Serbia’s president has raised worry, accusing Pristina of acting alone and violating the Brussels accord.

Meanwhile, according to Serbian media, the Russian envoy declared that “Serbia continues to pursue a responsible policy of peace and stability, and remains dedicated to respecting international law and executing the agreements reached thus far.” Vucic also met with the Chinese ambassador.

Meanwhile, diplomatic replies are coming from Brussels, notably from NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana, a Romanian representative.

He declared on Twitter that he had discussed the situation in Kosovo with the European Union’s representative, Miroslav Lajçak, and that KFOR is ready to intervene in the event of a violent escalation.

“I discussed the severe situation in Kosovo’s north with the Special Representative, Mirsolav Lajçak.” Belgrade and Pristina must exercise restraint and avoid escalation. NATO-KFOR is attentive and prepared to intervene if the situation deteriorates,” adds Geoana.

Kurti: The crisis originates from Serbia. This has nothing to do with license plates. Vucic consults with Russia and China, while lying to the US and the EU

Albin Kurti, Kosovo’s Prime Minister, stated that the tension in Kosovo’s north has nothing to do with the suspension of the police head or the enforcement of the license plate law, but rather with Serbia’s failure to accept the Franco-German proposal for an agreement with Kosovo.

“In recent days, Serbia and the President of our northern neighbor have increased their threats and efforts to destabilize the situation in our nation. These threats are essentially intended to cause fear among our people,” Kurti stated at a press conference.

“After the special meeting of the Serbian government on Saturday, the Serbian President met separately with the Russian and Chinese ambassadors. This plainly reveals that Serbia’s President meets with Russia and China, while he lies to the US and the EU. As a result, the current situation is largely explained by Belgrade’s desire to oppose the Franco-German proposal. It is not about vehicle plates, the association, or the suspension of Djuric; it is just about their rejection of the Paris and Berlin proposals.”

The head of the Kosovo government advised residents in the north to preserve calm, peace, and security, and to refrain from boycotting or abandoning the institutions of the Republic of Kosovo.

“They serve all of us, each and every one of you. Do not fall prey to political machinations or geopolitical games. Let us all work together to maintain democratic and European ideas such as the rule of law, human and minority rights and freedoms, and political pluralism,” Kurti said.

Kurti alleges that the person claiming to defend them is causing harm to the Serbs in Kosovo.

“Belgrade attacks Serbs in Kosovo, burning their cars and houses; Serbs do not think for a second that the fires were created by Albanians.”

Haradinaj warns Kurti: “Stop destroying the country, or we will stop you.”

Ramush Haradinaj, chairman of the Kosovo opposition party, Alliance for the Future of Kosovo (AAK) and former Prime Minister, has called Albin Kurti to reflect and halt the country’s destruction path. He urged northerners to remain calm and avoid falling victim to bad policies.

“I call on all citizens of Kosovo who live in the country’s north to refrain and keep calm, not falling prey to wrong policies. Kosovo is the country of everyone, and the destabilization of the situation is not in anyone’s favor, except for those who follow Russian agendas. As for Kurti, these are the last moments for him to reflect and stop the destruction of our country, otherwise we will be forced to stop him, with all democratic means available,” Haradinaj wrote on Facebook.

Earlier, Haradinaj asked the Prime Minister to reverse the decision to censure, punish, and then prohibit the cars of Kosovo Serbs who do not have Republic of Kosovo license plates.

Berisha welcomes NATO’s declaration, tells Vucic that “he will be burned”

Sali Berisha, the leader of the Democratic Party of Albania, portrayed the decision of the Serbian List’s to resign from all Kosovo’s institutions as an order from President Aleksandr Vucic, with the purpose to undermine the decision of the Kosovo government to implement reciprocity measures.

Berisha welcomed NATO’s prompt response to this matter, in which the alliance cautioned Serbia to stop inciting conflict, stating that the alliance would respond if Kosovo’s territorial integrity was infringed.

“The president of the Serb-majority country, and Edi Rama’s brother, Aleksandr Vucic, ordered Serbs in Kosovo yesterday to evacuate the country’s governmental institutions, including the police and parliament. This order was issued by the Serb-majority and warmongering Vucic only because the Kosovo government, in implementation of the Brussels agreements, which the Kosovo government delayed for about three months last August, has now begun a gradual implementation of the change of Serbian car license plates in Kosovo, from Serbian license plates to Republic of Kosovo license plates. Vucic responded to the Kosovo government’s act with blatant threats, he placed the army on stand by, and introduced Serbian and Russian criminals, countless weapons, and ordered Kosovo Serbs to leave the country’s institutions.

All of this demonstrates that Aleksandar Vucic, whose place is in The Hague, is a severe, irreparable threat to regional peace and security. The Deputy Secretary General of NATO reacted yesterday to these dangerous attitudes, making it clear to Vucic that the North Atlantic Alliance was ready to intervene in Kosovo’s defense and stability,” Berisha adds.

Former Albanian President: This is Russia’s tendency to create new sources of conflict

Former Albanian President, Ilir Meta, saw the events of the previous day in Kosovo, with the withdrawal of the Serbian List from institutions, as evidence of Putin’s tendency to deepen the war in Ukraine and establish new centers of crises throughout the world.

The Albanian Freedom Party’s leader adds that he supports Kosovo’s freedom to enforce the law on its territory, while also advocating for the implementation of all agreements achieved in Brussels.

Tensions in northern Kosovo, Albanian Foreign Minister: “Dialogue is more important than ever.”

Olta Xhaçka, the Albanian Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, has reacted regarding the difficult situation in northern Kosovo.

Xhaçka writes on Twitter that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is more important than ever, emphasizing that abandoning Kosovo’s institutions is an act of escalation.

“The abandonement of Kosovo’s institutions is an act of escalation at a time when collaboration and constructive dialogue are necessary. This is not the time to give up and go on strike. This is a time when dialogue is more important than ever,” adds Xhaçka.

Albanian President, Bajram Begaj, had previously expressed his concern about the situation in Kosovo’s north to his counterpart Vjosa Osmani, and he encouraged the continuation of the dialogue between the parties, keeping in mind the preservation of peace and stability, as well as Kosovo’s territorial integrity, as guaranteed by NATO.

Tensions in Kosovo, Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama: Persistent dialogue with Serbia to avoid losing allies

“We are watching  with great attention and true concern the escalated situation in Kosovo and join the stances of our key friends, USA & EU,” Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Twitter. “While we fully support the basic concept of the Franco-German Plan, we urge restraint and dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia,” Rama wrote.

“The authorities of Kosovo are within their rights to have reservations for the Association of Serbian Municipalities,” he continued, “and I understand this! But I understand the allies when they demand it strongly! As a result, an intensive dialogue with Serbia is required to avoid losing allies!”.