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"The US is worried about the accumulation of Serbian troops on the border with Kosovo"/ CNN takes a look at the Balkans: This is why tensions are high
Written by SOT.COM.AL 30 Shtator 2023
The long talks between Kosovo and Serbia are once again in the "thread of death", after one of the biggest clashes in years.
The latest clash was sparked by the killing of a Kosovar police officer and an ensuing shootout in the Banjska Monastery last weekend, but the roots of tensions go back to the 1990s and the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
Today, the White House is concerned, warning of an "unprecedented" buildup of advanced Serbian artillery, tanks and mechanized infantry units near the Kosovo border, while calling for an "immediate de-escalation."
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, following the 1998-99 war in which Kosovo Albanians tried to secede from what was then called the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, made up of present-day Serbia and Montenegro. The war was the height of ethnic tensions between the region's Albanian and Serbian communities in decades.
During the war, NATO intervened to protect the Albanian majority of Kosovo.
More than 20 years later, fragile peace has been preserved in Kosovo, while Serbia continues to not recognize Kosovo's independence. The Kosovo Serb minority sees itself as part of Serbia and sees Belgrade as its capital, not Pristina.
The majority of Kosovo Serbs – less than a tenth of the total population – live in the northern regions and have increasingly demanded greater autonomy from ethnic Albanian popularity.
Disputes over the degree of autonomy for the Serb minority continue, with the ethnic group sometimes responding with violent resistance to moves by Pristina that they see as anti-Serb.
What caused the latest explosion?
A clash took place between the police and 30 armed Serbian citizens last Sunday, where as a result of an ambush, one Kosovo policeman was killed and another injured.
During the exchange of fire in the village of Banjska, in northern Kosovo, police said they killed three armed attackers and arrested another. Some of the shootings happened near a Serbian Orthodox monastery, police say.
Authorities previously said they found "logistics equipment, suspected military vehicles, military uniforms as well as weapons and ammunition of various calibers" in a residential area used by the attackers.
Like other villages in the north, Banjska is predominantly Serbian.
Në një postim në Facebook të dielën në mëngjes, kryeministri i Kosovës Albin Kurti i përshkroi të shtënat në Banjska si një “sulm terrorist” të kryer nga ato që ai tha se ishin “banda kriminale serbe”.
Shpërthimi i dhunës vjen pas trazirave të majit, të cilat panë dhjetëra paqeruajtës të NATO-s të plagosur pasi u sulmuan nga serbët etnikë në Kosovën veriore.
Dhuna shpërtheu pasi demonstruesit serbë u përpoqën të bllokonin kryebashkiakët e sapozgjedhur etnikisht shqiptarë nga marrja e detyrës në qytetin verior të Zveçanit, pas zgjedhjeve të diskutueshme në prill.
Çfarë thonë të dyja palët?
Presidentja e Kosovës Vjosa Osmani e drejtoi gishtin nga Beogradi për nxitjen e dhunës të së dielës.
Presidenti serb Aleksandar Vuçiç i mohon akuzat, duke argumentuar se Serbia nuk do të përfitonte nga diçka që do të rrezikonte pozicionin e saj në bisedimet e normalizimit të sponsorizuara nga BE-ja me Prishtinën.
Vuçiç dënoi gjithashtu policinë e Kosovës për vrasjen e njërit prej personave të armatosur në kokë, pasi ai ishte dorëzuar “nga një distancë prej një metri”, duke e përshkruar atë si një “ekzekutim”. Ai u zotua të hetojë ngjarjet rreth dhunës, duke përfshirë origjinën e armëve të konfiskuara pas incidentit nga policia e Kosovës.
Në një zhvillim tjetër, një politikan i lartë serb i Kosovës, Milan Radoiçiç tha se ai mori pjesë në betejën me armë.
Në një letër dërguar Reuters nga avokati i tij, Radoiçiç, i cili kërkohet në Kosovë dhe jeton në Serbinë fqinje, tha se ai “përgatiste personalisht logjistikë për mbrojtjen e popullit serb” dhe nuk mori ndihmë nga autoritetet serbe.
Si po reagon pjesa tjetër e botës?
Shtëpia e Bardhë ka paralajmëruar se incidenti paraqet një kërcënim për sigurinë jo vetëm të personelit të Kosovës, por edhe të personelit ndërkombëtar, përfshirë trupat e NATO-s.
“Sipas autoriteteve të Kosovës, të paktën 30 persona ishin të përfshirë në këtë sulm që rezultoi me vdekjen e një rreshteri policie, një rreshter i Policisë së Kosovës”, u tha gazetarëve të premten koordinatori i Këshillit të Sigurisë Kombëtare për komunikimet strategjike, John Kirby.
"This is not the type of attack that is carried out randomly, or by some small group. The amount and types of weapons that were found represent a threat to the security of not only Kosovo personnel, but also international personnel, including NATO troops.
He added that the US is now monitoring a large Serbian military deployment along the border with Kosovo.
"We believe this is a very destabilizing development and has basically happened over the last week or so. And we are calling on Serbia to withdraw those forces from the border and contribute to lowering the temperature," he said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said additional forces had been authorized for Kosovo after the deadly exchange of fire and also called for de-escalation. / CNN