AP

Kosovo accuses Serbia of trying to destabilize country

Nov 7, 2022, 9:57 AM | Updated: 11:53 am

Kosovo Serbs wave Serbian flags during a protest in Mitrovica, Kosovo, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. Severa...

Kosovo Serbs wave Serbian flags during a protest in Mitrovica, Kosovo, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022. Several thousand ethnic Serbs on Sunday rallied in Kosovo after a dispute over vehicle license plates triggered a Serb walkout from their jobs in Kosovo's institutions and heightened ongoing tensions stemming from a 1990s' conflict. (AP Photo/Bojan Slavkovic)

(AP Photo/Bojan Slavkovic)

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo on Monday accused neighboring Serbia of trying to destabilize the country by pressuring members of the ethnic Serb community to resign from their posts for not accepting Pristina’s decision to change illegal vehicle license plates.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti said Serbia’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, has been in close coordination with Russia and China and is trying to “sabotage” the European Union-mediated dialogue.

Ten Serb parliamentarians, 10 prosecutors and 576 police officers in the northern Mitrovica region handed in their resignations following their political leaders’ decision on Saturday.

The government’s decision to gradually ban Serbia-issued license plates has angered Kosovo Serbs, most of whom don’t recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. Members of the ethnic Serb minority left their government jobs on Saturday in a protest over the directive.

“Serbia is obviously interested in sabotaging dialogue and any agreement,” Kurti said.

In the first three weeks in November, about 6,300 ethnic Serbs owning cars with illegal number plates will be warned, according to Kurti. For the next two months they will be fined, and for three other months until April 21, they will drive only with temporary local plates.

The Serbian government, with support from China and Russia, has refused to acknowledge Kosovo’s statehood. The United States and its allies recognize Kosovo as an independent country.

Serbia’s foreign minister, Ivica Dacic, said Sunday the country’s leadership has rejected the latest proposal offering Serbia a faster track to EU membership in exchange for Kosovo’s membership in the United Nations.

Dacic told pro-government broadcaster Prva that the proposal submitted by France and Germany “starts from the position that the independence of Kosovo is already a foregone conclusion.”

“Serbia can’t accept that,” he said.

Trouble brewed this summer over Serbia’s and Kosovo’s refusal to recognize each other’s identity documents and vehicle license plates. Kosovo Serbs in the north put up roadblocks, sounded air raid sirens and fired guns into the air.

In August, EU and U.S. envoys negotiated a solution to the travel documents problem, allowing the situation to calm down.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted that he had spoken by phone with Vucic and Kurti, urging both “to refrain from any unilateral action that can trigger escalation. Dialogue is the only way forward. NATO KFOR remains vigilant.”

EU spokesman Peter Stano also said Brussels was appealing “on the responsibility of the leaders in Serbia and Kosovo to prevent further escalation.”

“If there is something done locally or erupting locally, it will inevitably have consequences for the region. This is something Europe cannot afford, Serbia and Kosovo cannot afford, the region cannot afford,” Stano said.

The government in Pristina also decided to postpone to Nov. 1 the decision to require vehicles holding old or Serbian number plates to replace them with Kosovar ones. That also meant that vehicles entering from Serbia had to replace Serbian license plates with Kosovo ones.

For the past 11 years, the reverse was required by Serbia for vehicles coming in from Kosovo.

The EU has told Kosovo and Serbia that they must normalize ties if they want to advance toward membership in the 27-nation bloc. Brussels and Washington recently have stepped up mediation efforts, fearing uncertainties over Russia’s war in Ukraine and Serbia’s close ties with Moscow could aggravate matters.

Belgrade lost control over Kosovo in 1999 after NATO bombed the country to stop its brutal crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatist rebels.

NATO peacekeepers say they are ready to keep the country’s situation calm, especially in northern Kosovo where most ethnic Serbs live.

___

Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania. Follow him at https://twitter.com/lsemini and Florent Bajrami at https://twitter.com/florent_bajrami

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

7 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

8 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

10 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

10 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

11 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Kosovo accuses Serbia of trying to destabilize country