Ivica Dacic, Serbian deputy prime minister and interior minister, said today that his country is committed to solving the problems around Kosovo with peaceful means.
“Many are linking the latest developments in Serbia’s southern province to the forthcoming negotiations with the EU and additional pressures on Serbia in that regard, but our position is clear – there is a red line of state interests that Serbia will certainly not cross,” Mr. Dacic said in Belgrade. He added that Kosovo Prime Minister Hasim Thaci had tried to change the situation in the north of Kosovo by force, attempting to do something similar like the 1995 ‘Operation Storm’ in Croatia (see ‘Note’ at the end of the article).
The minister welcomed the late 3 August agreement between Serbian officials and KFOR Commander Erhard Bühler on the way to control administrative checkpoints in northern Kosovo and expressed the hope a final solution would soon be found.
EULEX police is not withdrawing from northern Kosovo and the situation there is peaceful at the moment, EULEX spokeswoman Irina Gudeljevic told Tanjug.
The Serbian Ministry for Kosovo has sent an appeal to EULEX and KFOR to protect the Serbs south of the Ibar river from the violence of Albanian extremists and ensure their personal safety and protect their property. The burning of the Petrovic family house in the village of Zociste is the one of the latest in the series of incidents and attacks on Serbs south of the Ibar in recent days. One more house of Kosovo Serbs has been damaged in the village of Ljevosa near Pec, regional spokesperson of the Kosovo police Zecir Keljmendi told Tanjug on yesterday (3 August).
Meanwhile, the first contingent of KFOR reserve troops arrived in the afternoon of 3 August at the Pristina airport as a re-enforcement to the international military forces after the eruption of the crisis in northern Kosovo.. At the request of KFOR commander Erhard Buehler, NATO decided to send around 700 members of the reserve forces, mostly from Germany and Austria.
Note: ‘Operation Storm’ was the code name of the Croatian army operation against Serb forces, that had earlier took possession of large parts of Croatian territory. This combined Croatian and Bosnian offensive is considered the largest land offensive in Europe since WWII and involved four Croatian corps plus the 5th Bosnian corps on the side of the attackers.
(Sources: Middle East & Balkans News, Tanjug; 4 August 2011)