Kosovo Attacks Injure Dozens Of NATO Troops (Worthy News In-Depth)

Tuesday, May 30, 2023 | Tag Cloud Tags:

By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

PRISTINA/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The NATO military alliance condemned late Monday attacks in northern Kosovo that left about 25 of its peacekeepers injured.

NATO said the violence by Serbs against its troops and police in the town of Zvecan was “totally unacceptable.”

Security forces used tear gas and stun grenades to deter protesters in Zvecan after they tried to storm a government building, witnesses said.

Some Kosovo police vehicles and one belonging to journalists were damaged and defaced with Serb nationalist symbols, reporters said.

Monday’s violence was the latest in a series of confrontations in the north where Serbs tried to prevent the installation of ethnic Albania mayors.

The Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo, said its soldiers were attacked with incendiary devices by protesters in Zvecan.

“While countering the most active fringes of the crowd, several soldiers of the Italian and Hungarian KFOR contingent were the subject of unprovoked attacks. [They] sustained trauma wounds with fractures and burns due to the explosion of incendiary devices,” KFOR said in a statement.


The latest crisis began in April when Kosovo Serbs boycotted local elections, allowing ethnic Albanians to take control of local councils despite a turnout of less than four percent.

Serbs, who form a majority in the north, never accepted Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.

They view Belgrade as their capital and Kosovo as part of Serbia, over 20 years after Kosovo Albanians rose against what they called “repressive” Serbian rule.

Serbia’s government also refused to recognize an independent Kosovo, which it regards as a Serbian province.

Serbs want the Kosovo government to remove ethnic Albanian mayors from town halls and allow local administrations financed by Belgrade to resume their work.

With tensions rising, NATO soldiers extended their presence on the streets of Kosovo on Monday by forming security cordons around two other town halls.

The tensions were closely watched in neighboring Serbia, where nationalist President Aleksandar Vucic said he would spend the night with his troops on the border with Kosovo.


He placed Serbia’s army on the highest state of alert, raising concerns in Western capitals.

Serbia is a close ally of Russia, and the violence put additional pressure on NATO member states which are already stretched thin due to the war in Ukraine.

Vucic said 52 Serbs were injured in the clashes, three seriously, and four were detained. “The consequences [of the clashes] are big and grave, and the sole culprit is [Kosovo Prime Minister] Albin Kurti,” he stressed.

“I repeat for the last time, and I beg the international community to make sure Albin Kurti sees reason,” Vucic said. “If they don’t, I am afraid it will be too late for all of us.”

However, Kurti condemned the reported attacks against KFOR, local police, and journalists saying, “We stand for peace and security.”

Monday’s standoff was expected to complicate further Western talks with Serbia and Kosovo about their ambitions to join the European Union.

It disappointed two U.S. Senators who last week toured the region to help revive EU–backed negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia on improving their relations.


The Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Gary Peters, who visited Kosovo as well as Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, appealed for calm.

Some 120,000 Serbs live in Kosovo, a predominantly ethnic Albanian nation of nearly 2 million people, still recovering from its bloody struggle for independence

The conflict in Kosovo erupted in 1998 when separatist ethnic Albanians rebelled against Serbia’s rule, and Serbia responded with a brutal crackdown.

About 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, died.

NATO’s military intervention in 1999, including heavy bombardments, forced Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo.

Washington and most European Union countries recognized Kosovo as an independent state, but Serbia, Russia, and China have not.

Last week’s Senators’ visit was part of broader efforts by Washington and Brussels to help solve the Kosovo-Serbia dispute, fearing further instability in Europe as the war rages in Ukraine.


The European Union has clarified to Serbia and Kosovo that they must normalize relations to advance their intentions to join the 27-nation bloc.

“Time is of the essence. That agreement is incredibly important,” Murphy said.

“I see no reason why both Kosovo and Serbia shouldn’t implement that agreement by the end of this year.”

Murphy stressed that they pressed Kosovo “to live up to their end of the bargain” and would do the same in Serbia.

“This agreement requires sacrifice on both sides,” he added.

Peters stressed that an accord between the adversaries would “resolve a lingering problem that is actually impeding economic progress in this region.”

The two sides have tentatively agreed to back an EU plan on proceeding, but Monday’s clashes underscore that tensions continue to simmer in the troubled Balkans.

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