Kosovo’s ethnic Serb police, lawmakers resign en masse

Nov 4, 2022, 7:12 PM | Updated: Nov 5, 2022, 12:21 pm
Serb police officers took off their uniforms in the town of Zvecan, Kosovo, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022....

Serb police officers took off their uniforms in the town of Zvecan, Kosovo, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. Representatives of the ethnic Serb minority in Kosovo on Saturday resigned from their posts in protest over the dismissal of a police officer who did not follow the government's decision on vehicle license plates. Earlier this week Pristina authorities dismissed a senior Serb police officer in northern Kosovo, where most of the ethnic Serbs live, who refused to respect the decision to change vehicle license plates in Kosovo to ones issued by Kosovo. (AP Photo/Bojan Slavkovic)

(AP Photo/Bojan Slavkovic)

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Representatives of the ethnic Serb minority in Kosovo on Saturday resigned from their posts in protest over the dismissal of a police officer who did not follow the government’s decision on vehicle license plates.

Earlier this week Pristina authorities dismissed a senior Serb police officer in northern Kosovo, where most of the ethnic Serbs live, who refused to respect the decision to change vehicle license plates in Kosovo to ones issued by Kosovo. The shift has ignited volatile issues about Kosovo’s sovereignty, especially among its Serb minority, many of whom still want the former Serb province to be part of Serbia and not independent.

Serbia itself has never recognized the independence of Kosovo.

As the measure came into effect Tuesday, Kosovo authorities said enforcement would be gradual. In three weeks Pristina authorities will be issuing warnings to the ethnic Serbs who keep their old license plates. For the next two months they will be fined, and the next three months they can drive only with replaced temporary local plates.

Ethnic Serbs have a government minister, 10 parliamentarians and other top posts in governing, police and judiciary in their four local communities. All resigned and senior police officers symbolically took off their uniforms Saturday. The effect of the mass resignation was unclear.

Both Pristina and Belgrade toughened their language and accused each other of violating the deals they have reached at EU-mediated negotiations. The European Union has told Kosovo and Serbia they must normalize ties if they want to advance toward membership in the 27-nation bloc.

Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani accused Belgrade of exerting pressure on Kovoso’s ethnic Serb minority.

“Such a move urged from Serbia proves again what we have repeated many times, that Serbia is destabilizing Kosovo and the region because of its territorial and hegemonistic goals,” said Osmani.

Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti called on the ethnic Serbs not to boycott the local institutions, “not to fall prey of political manipulations and geo-political games.” Kurti claimed that Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was lying to American and European envoys and “often meets with and coordinates with the Russian ambassador to Belgrade.”

“Not being a democratic country, Serbia is becoming a Kremlin tool,” Kurti posted on social media.

In Belgrade, Vucic attended a government session, met the Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarch Porfirije, as well as the ambassadors of allies Russia and China, to discuss the situation in Kosovo. Vucic also spoke on the phone with the U.S. ambassador in Belgrade.

Vucic said Serbia is determined to strongly defend its vital national interests.

Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic accused Pristina authorities of increasing attacks “on Serbs … their property was illegally taken away, rare returnees were most brutally harassed and expelled again, innocent people arrested and convicted.”

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.

Pristina also postponed to Nov. 1 the decision to require vehicles holding old or Serbian license 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 has been required by Serbia for vehicles coming in from Kosovo.

Kosovo’s 2008 independence has been recognized by the United States and most EU countries, while Serbia has relied on support from Moscow and China for its bid to retain the former province.

—–

Semini reported from Tirana, Albania; Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade.

—–

Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

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

AP

FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011...
Associated Press

Boeing’s last 747 to roll out of Washington state factory

After more than half a century, Boeing is set to roll its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday.
24 hours ago
FILE - Three girls embrace before they are removed from the home of Samuel Bateman, following his a...
Associated Press

FBI: Polygamous leader had 20 wives, many of them minors

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The leader of small polygamous group near the Arizona-Utah border had taken at least 20 wives, most of them minors, and punished followers who did not treat him as a prophet, newly filed federal court documents show. Samuel Bateman was a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

German officials: 25 suspected far-right extremists detained

BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of police carried out a series of raids across much of Germany on Wednesday against suspected far-right extremists who allegedly sought to overthrow the state by force. Federal prosecutors said some 3,000 officers conducted searches at 130 sites in 11 of Germany’s 16 states against adherents of the so-called Reich Citizens […]
24 hours ago
FILE - Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir, center, surrounded by right wing activists with Israeli fl...
Associated Press

US Jews fear collision with expected Israeli government

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s ties to the Jewish American community, one of its closest and most important allies, are about to be put to the test, with Israel’s emerging far-right government on a collision course with Jews in the United States. Major Jewish American organizations, traditionally a bedrock of support for Israel, have expressed alarm […]
24 hours ago
Yale University doctoral students Siria Gamez, and Aishwarya Bhandari, rear, work on a wildlife cam...
Associated Press

Extinctions, shrinking habitat spur ‘rewilding’ in cities

DETROIT (AP) — In a bustling metro area of 4.3 million people, Yale University wildlife biologist Nyeema Harris ventures into isolated thickets to study Detroit’s most elusive residents — coyotes, foxes, raccoons and skunks among them. Harris and colleagues have placed trail cameras in woodsy sections of 25 city parks for the past five years. […]
24 hours ago
A cyclist passes by household waste inside yellow trash bags marked as medical waste in Beijing, We...
Associated Press

China announces rollback of strict anti-COVID-19 measures

BEIJING (AP) — In a sharp reversal, China has announced a series of measures rolling back some of its most draconian anti-COVID-19 restrictions, including limiting harsh lockdowns and ordering schools without known infections to resume regular classes. The National Health Commission in a 10-point announcement on Wednesday stipulated that COVID-19 tests and a clean bill […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Kosovo’s ethnic Serb police, lawmakers resign en masse