Kosovo Police Exercise Raises Tensions Again

"Kosovo is Serbia", Serbia still has its structures up and running in Kosovo

"Kosovo is Serbia", Serbia still has its structures up and running in Kosovo (www.jb-photography.org)

An exercise of the Regional Operational Support Unit, a SWAT-type Kosovar police unit, has again lead to rising tensions in the volatile region earlier this week.

(Image: JB Photography)

The exercise held in the south of Kosovo has led to a renewed Serbian vow that it will not abandon its separate structures in the north of Kosovo despite Germany’s insistence to do so.  Serbia does not recognize an independent Kosovo and still has its administrative structures in the Serb part of Kosovo in place. In the Serb-majority northern Kosovo institutions like post offices, schools and municipalities are still run by Serbian authorities.

“Serbian institutions are necessary for the Serb community in Kosovo and we can neither give up those institutions nor abolish them because that would mean giving up our wish to keep Kosovo in Serbia,” Serbian Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic told the news agency Beta on Wednesday.

The demand to dismantle parallel structures came from German chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit in Belgrade earlier this week. Some Serbian officials see a further splitting up of Kosovo into an autonomous Serbian North and a predominately Albanian-populated rest as the only solution but that would open a new can of worms because of similar issues in Macedonia and elsewhere in Serbia.

After the ROSU exercise on Wednesday the Serbian daily Blic wrote that the Kosovo Serbs are ready to block the roads in the North again. We witnessed a conference of protest organizers in Zvecan earlier this month where the owner of a local transport company said he would be able to “bring traffic in the region to a standstill with my 23 lorries” should it be necessary.

Croatia’s foreign minister Jadranka Kosor offered her country’s help to get the talks between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo started again to ease the tensions. After meeting Kosovar prime minister Hashim Thaci on Wednesday in Pristina she said, “We will make all efforts as the leader in the region to help really reopen the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.”

Serbia said it will continue the talks with Kosovo starting on 2 September in Brussels.

(Image: Copyright JB Photography)

(Sources: Voice of America, Hurriyet,  Middle East & Balkans News; 26 August 2011)


About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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