Tensions in Kosovo… and the Serbian army is in maximum alert

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday put in alerts army following tensions in Kosovo, the former Serbian province whose independence Belgrade refuses to recognize and where tensions have recently exacerbated between its Albanian majority and its Serbian minority.

The Serbian region declared its independence in 2008, but Belgrade, which refuses to recognize the fledgling state, is urging the 120,000 Serbs living in northern Kosovo to challenge the authorities in Pristina.

On Monday evening, Serbian Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said in a statement that “the president of Serbia (…) ordered the Serbian army to be at the maximum level of combat readiness, i.e. at the level of readiness for armed force.”

Serbian Chief of Staff General Milan Moiselovic said on Sunday that the president had ordered him to go to the border area with Kosovo.

“The situation is difficult and complex,” said General Moicelovic, underlining that it was necessary for “the Serbian army to be present along the administrative line”, a term used by the Serbian authorities to indicate the border line with Kosovo.

For its part, the Serbian Interior Ministry said on Monday evening that “all units” of the Internal Security Forces “will immediately be placed under the command of the Chief of Staff”.

On December 10, hundreds of Serbs in Kosovo blocked major roads in Serb-majority northern regions to protest the arrest of a former policeman, paralyzing traffic at two border crossings.

General Moicelovic confirmed on Sunday that he was headed for Rasca, a town 10 kilometers from the Kosovo border, after meeting Vucic in Belgrade.

He said: “The tasks entrusted to the Serbian army … are accurate and clear and will be fully implemented.”

Just before Moiselovic headed for the border area, several media Serbs broadcast a circulating video about social media, in where shots were heard.

And i media they said a “clash” took place on Sunday evening as Kosovar forces tried to remove a checkpoint to open a road.

However, the Kosovo Police denied, in a post on Facebook, that his forces were involved in an armed confrontation.

Kosovo Interior Minister Hilal Svekla confirmed that a patrol of the maintenance mission of the pace KFOR extension in Kosovo, which operates under the leadership of “NATO”, has come under armed attack.

For its part, “Kfour” said it had opened an investigation into “an indirect shooting incident that occurred on December 25 near a Kfour-Nato patrol” and which involved an unspecified number of armed men.

Kafour added in a statement: “There were no injuries or property damage and we are working to verify all the facts.”

Tensions flared between Serbia and Kosovo when Pristina set December 18 as the date for local elections in Serb-majority municipalities, but Serbia’s most important political party announced its boycott.

And subsequently, the Kosovo authorities arrested a former policeman suspected of involvement in attacks on police officers of Albanian origin, which angered Serbs, who resorted to banditry.

In November, hundreds of Serbian police officers from the Kosovo Police Service, as well as judges, prosecutors and others, went on strike to protest the decision to ban Serbs living in Kosovo to put Serbian license plates on theirs auto.

However, despite the suspension of the implementation of the decision, the strike of Serbian employees and policemen continued, creating a security vacuum in Kosovo.

Last week, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic warned that the situation with Kosovo was “on the verge of slipping in an armed conflict”.

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