After the election of new mayors, protests broke out in three out of four Serb-majority communities. Militant Serbs attacked NATO peacekeepers with incendiary devices and stones in the village of Zvecan on Monday. 30 Italian and Hungarian soldiers and more than 50 Serbs were injured. Politicians of Albanian origin prevailed in by-elections, which the Serbs boycotted at the behest of the government in Belgrade.
Violence in Kosovo: “This escalation is a gift for Russia”
Oliver Jens Schmitt, scientific director of the Balkans research department of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, explains to “T-Online” why one person in particular benefits from the violence – namely Vladimir Putin. “This escalation is a gift for Russia,” Schmitt told the newspaper. “The Kremlin is interested in opening as many fronts against the EU as possible. And Serbia is playing along.”
In the north of the country, the Kosovan government had recently installed ethnic Albanian mayors under police protection in predominantly Serb communities. Serb residents of the region, where many Serbs are loyal to Belgrade, protested violently. However, the Serbs had previously largely boycotted the local elections, in which Albanian local politicians were then elected.
Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo
Kosovo, a country of 1.8 million people with a majority ethnic Albanian population, declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade still regards it as a Serbian province to this day. Around 120,000 Serbs live in Kosovo, mostly in the north. Other countries, including Serbia’s allies China and Russia, also do not recognize Kosovo’s independence.