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Kosovo, Serbia Trade Accusations At UN Security Council Meeting

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The presidents of Serbia and Kosovo traded accusations on April 22 at a session of the UN Security Council in New York called to consider a report on the work of UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani accused Serbia of preventing the integration of ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo into Kosovar institutions, while Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the world is not paying enough attention to the plight of Serbs living in the region.

Osmani also accused Serbia of “intimidating” the Serbian community in the region, citing as an example the recent detention of Kosovar police officers at the border for what Serbian officials said was “security checks.”

Osmani also noted that a vote on April 21 in four mostly Serbian municipalities in the north of the country fell far short of the 50 percent required to validate the results amid a boycott by Serbian List, the leading Serbian political grouping. The vote was an initiative to remove the current mayors and elect new ones through a recall process.

Speaking at the UN in New York, she said that Serbs in Kosovo “can thank Serbian President Vucic” for the fact that Albanian mayors remain at the head of the municipalities.

Vucic, whose country has refused to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence, was also present for the council meeting, telling its 15 members that the international community paid a lot of attention to the incident in Banjska in September but not to the attacks on the Serbian minority.

The incident near Kosovo’s border with Serbia escalated tensions dramatically when an ethnic Albanian Kosovar police officer was left dead after an encounter with masked commandos allegedly led by a Kosovar Serb politician who has long enjoyed Belgrade’s support. Three of the gunmen were also killed.

“We will not allow it to be used as an alibi for the persecution of Serbs (in Kosovo),” he said, adding that poor conditions are being deliberately created for the Serbian minority in Kosovo.

The incident is a “consequence of repression” in Kosovo, said Vucic, who also raised the Central Bank of Kosovo’s decision to ban the Serbian currency, the dinar, for cash payments, calling it “an ethnically motivated campaign against Serbs and non-Albanians” in Kosovo.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood said that Serbia has not made significant progress in bringing responsible justice when it comes to the incident in Banjska.

“It is important that Serbia works with KFOR so that this [kind of] attack does not happen again,” he told the Council, referring to NATO’s peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

The detention of Kosovar citizens traveling through Serbia and “the arrest of Serbs working in the Kosovo police” are also concerns of the United States, Wood said, calling such actions “a violation of previous agreements on free movement.”

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya said that the situation in Kosovo is worrying because of the “ethnically motivated violence by the authorities in Pristina.”

He said the European Union was “standing by” Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti, and said Brussels and Washington aim for Serbia to recognize the independence of Kosovo and take away its territory.

Caroline Ziadeh, who heads the UNMIK, told the council that tensions have increased in recent months and one of her key observations has been “dissatisfaction with what was achieved in the [Pristina-Belgrade] dialogue,” which Brussels and the United States have been trying to restart.

Ziadeh said that it has never been more urgent to carry out “the full implementation of the agreements reached under the auspices of the European Union to help solve the major crises and series of crises that have occurred.”

Source: RFERL

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