As ethnic Albanian forces crack down on province’s Serb minority, Belgrade expects NATO to ignore its concerns
Serbia will request that its forces be deployed in Kosovo amid an Albanian-led crackdown on the province’s Serb population, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Saturday. Vucic added that he expects NATO’s Kosovo supporters to reject the request.
“We will send a request to the commander of KFOR to ensure the deployment of members of the army and police of the Republic of Serbia to the territory of Kosovo and Metohija,” he added. Vucic said, referring to the NATO-led Kosovo Force mission in the province.
Under UN Security Council Resolution 1244, Serbia has the right to send military and police personnel to Kosovo in certain situations, including in the event that the “a peaceful and normal life” of its population becomes threatened.
Kosovo has been occupied by NATO forces since the alliance intervened to drive Yugoslav troops out of the province in 1999. Given this occupation and Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, Vucic said that KFOR would probably reject his request, even if “it is an obligation for KFOR.”
Ethnic Albanian authorities in Kosovo sent hundreds of police to the Serb-majority northern district of Kosovska Mitrovica on Thursday, a violation of a 2013 agreement between Belgrade and Pristina. Kosovo police seized 42,000 liters of wine the same day from a Serb-run winery in Velika Hoca and sent riot police units to a kindergarten in Leposavic the day before.
The incidents are the latest flare-ups since Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti announced a ban on Serbian license plates in July, citing a 2013 agreement governing relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Serbia sees the agreement as a step towards recognizing Kosovo’s independence and has not ratified it.
Vucic said on Saturday that Kosovo plans to submit an application to join the European Union next week. He said that Serbia opposes this plan because “Only sovereign and independent states can apply for admission”, neither of which Kosovo is. Moreover, five EU countries, including Spain and Greece, do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state.
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