Nfter clashes in a Serb-majority town in Kosovo, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has put his country’s army on standby. In addition, troops should be moved closer to the border with Kosovo. Defense Minister Milos Vucevic spoke of an urgent measure on television on Friday. “It is clear that terror is being perpetrated against the Serb community in Kosovo.” The Kosovar police in Zvecan had earlier used tear gas against a crowd trying to prevent the inauguration of a new Kosovar Albanian mayor. The police reported five injured officers, local Serbian health authorities reported ten slightly injured people.
Criticism of Kosovo from the USA
About 50,000 Serbians live in four northern municipalities of Kosovo, including Zvecan. They boycotted the local elections on April 23 – the turnout was 3.5 percent – and refused to cooperate with the new four Albanian mayors. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday condemned the attempt by the authorities in Kosovo to use force to gain access to official buildings. This move went against US and European advice, has “drastically and unnecessarily” increased tensions and will “have repercussions on our bilateral relationship with Kosovo.”
Tensions with the Serbian minority in northern Kosovo have repeatedly arisen. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. However, the government in Belgrade did not recognize independence. The Serbs living in Kosovo also see themselves as part of the neighboring country. The ongoing dispute between the former Yugoslav republic of Serbia and its former province of Kosovo is an obstacle on the way for both states to join the European Union.
Vucic’s resignation from party leadership
Meanwhile, Vucic announced on Friday evening that he would step down from the presidency of his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). “This is the last evening that I will speak to you as head of the SNS,” he said on Friday at a mass rally of the nationalist presidential party in Belgrade. On Saturday, the SNS will hold a party congress should follow, Vucic did not announce.
At the beginning of the month, Serbian society was shaken by two rampages that killed 18 people. During protests, Vucic opponents questioned responsibility and demanded consequences.
Since 2012, the Serbian President has held various positions in determining the country’s fortunes. Critics accuse him of an authoritarian style of government. His resignation from the top of the SNS is of little consequence. Vucic and his followers control most of the media, the judiciary and part of the economy.
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