After clashes between NATO troops of the peacekeeping forces and Kosovo Serbs in the northern portion of the province, the situation remains tense, and KFOR helicopters patrol the area. In the village of Rudare (Zvečan municipality), the mood remains tense. Soldiers from KFOR blocked the road leading to the municipality of Leposavić. The Serbian newspaper Politika reported that elements of KFOR prowl the area. Two soldiers and at least four local residents were wounded in the skirmishes, although various sources reported that were more victims, and issued an appeal for blood donors. Some of the wounded were taken to hospital. According to Politika, Uwe Nowitzki, an official representative of KFOR, strongly condemned the clashes. He noted that the actions were very small-scale, but that it forced KFOR soldiers to “act in self-defence in accordance with the situation”. The authorities in the Serb community negotiated with KFOR command elements, after which local leaders called on people to behave peacefully, as the military was prepared to engage in hostilities.
There are conflicting reports on what happened in Northern Kosovo, some say that there’ve been searches of Serbian houses, KFOR soldiers roughed up women and children, and KFOR troops opened fire. VOR received confirmation of some details from an eyewitness, Milan Ezdič, chief editor of the website Срби на окуп (Serbs for Return), who said, “The hospital reported that one man was wounded by live ammunition. He has an in-and-out bullet wound and broken bones. KFOR troops shot another man in the head with a rubber bullet. I personally saw soldiers beat a Serbian woman from the village of Rudare. KFOR units searched a house, but it’s unclear what the elderly woman who lived there could do to attack the soldiers”. Ezdič told us that KFOR set up checkpoints in place of the Serbian barricades. Meanwhile, near the village of Rudare, the Serbs erected a new barrier with stones, and, in the northern part of Kosovska Mitrovica, they decided to block the movement of all vehicles of the international force.
On Friday, the Serbian National Security Council met in emergency session to discuss the situation in northern Kosovo and Metohija, resolving, “We call on the international mission, UNMIK, KFOR, and EULEX, to act in accordance with their mandates, to prevent all attempts of the provisional authorities in Priština to destabilise and intimidate the Serbian population of the region”. The Security Council also appealed to Kosovo Serbs to avoid conflicts and clashes with soldiers of the international forces, stating with some emphasis, “All problems must be solved through dialogue, without violence, and this is the only path to stability in the region”.
ITAR-TASS reported that the highest executive authority of the EU has already responded to the news of the clashes. Maya Kosânčič, the Press Secretary of EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, said that the European Commission is “concerned about the situation in northern Kosovo, where there’ve been outbreaks of violence again. For us, freedom of movement is a key element in the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština. We’re closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with NATO and our international partners”.
2 June 2012
Voice of Russia World Service