Kosovo Serbs gathered in North Mitrovica and Gracanica on Friday to express anger over the government's decision not to allow voting in Serbia’s April 3 elections to take place in Kosovo.
Hundreds of Kosovo Serbs gathered on Friday in Tsar Lazar square in the northern half of the divided town of Mitrovica, and at the House of Culture in the municipality of Gracanica, demanding the right to vote in Kosovo for Serbia’s elections, due April 3.
Protesters held placards attacking Prime Minister Albin Kurti, reading: “Kurti has destroyed the Brussels agreement, he has destroyed everything”, “Kurti has violated the Serbs”, and “We just want our rights “.
People from the four Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo protested in North Mitrovica, while those living in the six Serb-majority municipalities south of the Ibar river went to Gracanica in an organized manner.
MPs from the Kosovo Serb party Serbian List, the Minister for Communities and Returns, Serb judicial staff and the mayors of Serb-majority municipalities said that they will freeze further work until the decision to suspend the Kosovo Serbian judge Liljana Stevanovic, for having participated in a meeting in Belgrade with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, is revoked, the Minister for Communities and Returns, Goran Rakic, told the protesters in North Mitrovica.
Dalibor Jevtic, mayor of Shterpce/Strpce, said they would protest peacefully as they wanted to fight by democratic means.
“Through this peaceful protest, we are protesting without any incident. We are giving a clear message that we want to fight with democratic means and that this is the responsibility of everyone, both those who hold the government in Pristina and the international community, from whom we seek institutional protection,” Jevtic said.
He added that the decision to not allow voting in Serbian elections, and the suspension of the judge in Mitrovica, were evidence of the Kosovo government’s ill will, and that they would have further consultations with Vucic in future on other decisions.
The protest lasted an hour and ended without incident.
Diplomats from France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union on Friday expressed concern about the risk of escalation or violence in the protests.
The -so-called Quint and EU countries reiterated their calls for Kosovo and Serbia to refrain from any rhetoric or decisions that could lead to worse tensions.
The Quint countries proposed to resolve the row over voting through liaison officers between Kosovo and Serbia.
These officers would then be the only official channel of communication between the governments of Kosovo and Serbia, and would convey Serbia’s requests about voting to the Kosovo authorities.
Kosovo wanted Serbia to officially ask it for permission to organize the voting in Kosovo. However, Serbia does not recognise its former province as an independent state, and refused to do so.
Kosovo Serbs have instead been told they may vote in the April 3 elections in central and southern Serbia.
25 March 2022 - 16:37
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