Between Kóvoso and Serbia, the swords are raised again. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has met with the Kosovo Serbs to offer his support, following the violent clashes in the city of Mitrovica between Kosovar police and Serbian civilians, which left at least six wounded on both sides.
Vucic has told them that they can count on Serbia’s support “if the violence starts.”
“You do not have to react to non-violence said the president. But if the violence starts …if you start violence … protect your people and we will support you “.
The Kosovar government repeats that the police deployment that generated the clash was an operation against smuggling networks and was not directed at all against the Serbian population of Kóvoso. In fact, he stresses that none of the detainees was Serbian, while the prosecutor and judge in the case are.
“This operation was not against any nationality, this operation was against criminals who are engaged in smuggling illegal goods into the territory of Kosovo”, assured the Kosovar Minister of the Interior, Xhelal Svecla.
Violence between Kosovar policemen and Serbian civilians from northern Mitrovica
Clashes broke out during police raids in four areas of Kosovo, including Mitróvica, a city divided along ethnic lines between Serbs living in the northern neighborhoods and Albanians living in the south.
The operation, aimed at “combating Serbian smuggling”, angered hundreds of Serbs who blocked the roads in Mitróvica and nearby Zvecan.
Kosovar police responded by firing tear gas and sound grenades to disperse the crowd, according to an AFP correspondent. In North Mitróvica, Serbian protesters threw stones at police and set two vehicles on fire.
Local television footage showed young men, their faces covered by ski masks, beating up Kosovar policemen deployed in front of a pharmacy. Police accused the protesters of using “firearms and hand grenades to attack and prevent customs officers and officials from doing their job.”
Calm was restored after the withdrawal of the Kosovar forces, which announced the arrest of eight people and the seizure of “hundreds of thousands of euros in goods”.
Just two weeks after the end of the border license plate conflict
This new peak of tension takes place just two weeks after Serbia and Kosovo reached an agreement to end the previous dispute, that of the registration of vehicles crossing the border: Serbia required that Kosovar vehicles have Serbian temporary registration plates if they were crossing the border, to which Kosovo responded with the same demand. The pulse caused a blockage that lasted until the beginning of October.