Serbia says KFOR rejected its forces’ return to Kosovo

Jan 7, 2023, 12:21 PM | Updated: Jan 8, 2023, 7:43 am
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during an annual public address in Belgrade, Serbia, Wedn...

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during an annual public address in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, amid recent tensions in Kosovo and a difficult economic situation. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

              Kosovo police officers guard checkpoint on the road near the northern Kosovo border crossing of Jarinje, along the Kosovo-Serbia border, Kosovo, Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. Serbia on Thursday revoked combat readiness of its troops on the border with Kosovo as local Serbs started removing more than a dozen of the roadblocks they had set up in the north of the state, in a sign of easing of tensions that have sparked fears of a renewed conflict in the Balkans. (AP Photo/Marjan Vucetic)
            
              Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during an annual public address in Belgrade, Serbia, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, amid recent tensions in Kosovo and a difficult economic situation. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo have rejected a demand from Serbia that its security forces be allowed to return to the breakaway province amid ongoing tensions, Serbia’s president said Sunday.

The KFOR peacekeepers, who deployed in Kosovo in 1999 after the NATO alliance’s bombing forced the Serbian army and police out of the territory, said in their response that there’s no need for the return of the Serbian forces, President Aleksandar Vucic said.

Serbia made its demand in mid-December when tensions in Kosovo soared over the arrest of an ethnic Serb former police officer that led to roadblocks in the north of the country where ethnic Serbs mostly live.

Those tensions were later defused amid European Union and U.S. efforts to push forward an EU-mediated dialogue between the former Balkan war foes. Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence and the dispute remains a potential flashpoint.

In the most recent incident, an off-duty Kosovo security officer shot and wounded two ethnic Serbs last week in central Kosovo, including an 11-year-old boy. The man was arrested after the incident near the town of Strpce, Kosovo police said.

Hundreds of people protested on Sunday in Strpce because of the shooting, demanding more security for the tens of thousands of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo. Another group of several hundred people gathered in the northern town of Mitrovica, in a rare protest against Vucic’s policies that they say are too conciliatory toward Kosovo.

The conflict in Kosovo erupted when separatist ethnic Albanians launched a rebellion against Serbia’s rule and Belgrade responded with a brutal crackdown that prompted the NATO intervention. About 13,000 people died in the conflict, mostly ethnic Albanians.

Serbia insists that hundreds of its security forces have the right to redeploy under a U.N. resolution that followed the war. Belgrade has said the return of its troops to Kosovo would help lower tensions, a claim vehemently rejected by Kosovo and Western officials.

Vucic said KFOR’s response to Serbia’s demand was expected because of Western backing for Kosovo’s independence. Serbia has relied on Russia and China in its bid to retain its claim to its former province, which many Serbs consider the nation’s heartland.

The West “was not worried about the wounding of the Serb boys,” Vucic complained on pro-government Pink television. “I did not expect a different answer from KFOR.”

Serbia and Kosovo have been told they must normalize relations if they want to advance toward EU membership. A senior U.S. delegation is set to visit the region next week to help push forward the deadlocked EU-mediated talks.

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

AP

Associated Press

World Health Organization employee released in Mali

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A World Health Organization employee was released in northern Mali after being abducted by unidentified assailants, a spokesperson said Friday. Dr. Mahamadou Diawara was freed Thursday afternoon and is in Gao town, Abdoulaye Cisse, communication officer for the WHO in Mali told The Associated Press. “We are conducting the formalities to […]
1 day ago
Rebecca Mwenda, wife to Josphert Mwenda who was murdered alongside human rights lawyer Willy Kimani...
Associated Press

Former Kenyan policeman sentenced to death for murder

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A Kenyan former policeman was sentenced to death on Friday for the murder of a human rights lawyer, his client and a taxi driver. Frederick Leliman and three others were convicted of carrying out the murders in 2016, in one of a series of cases of alleged police brutality and extrajudicial […]
1 day ago
FILE - A Leopard 1 tank drives in Storkau, Germany, on May 19, 2000. Ukraine may be able to add old...
Associated Press

Ukraine may also get old Leopard 1 tanks from German stocks

BERLIN (AP) — Ukraine may be able to add old Leopard 1 battle tanks from German defense industry stocks to deliveries of modern tanks that Berlin and other governments pledged last week to counter Russian forces in the war. German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit confirmed Friday that “export authorization has been granted” but declined to […]
1 day ago
FILE - President Barack Obama, left, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the New START treat...
Associated Press

NATO urges Russia to respect nuclear pact with the US

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO called Friday on Russia to respect the only treaty it has with the United States aimed at keeping a lid on nuclear weapons expansion and urged Moscow to allow on-the-ground inspections of military sites to resume. The so-called New START Treaty was signed by Russia and the U.S. in 2010. It […]
1 day ago
This undated photo released by the Crown Prosecution Service on Friday Feb. 3, 2023, shows a crossb...
Associated Press

UK man admits treason over crossbow plot against queen

LONDON (AP) — A man who was arrested on the grounds of Windsor Castle with a loaded crossbow pleaded guilty to treason on Friday for planning to attack Queen Elizabeth II. Jaswant Singh Chail, 21, admitted to a charge under the Treason Act of intending to “injure the person of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Reports: 8 migrants’ bodies recovered by Italian coast guard

MILAN (AP) — The bodies of eight migrants have been recovered by Italy’s coast guard during an operation overnight that also rescued 42 survivors in the central Mediterranean off the island of Lampedusa, Italian news agency ANSA reported Friday. The coast guard in Rome and in Lampedusa declined to immediately confirm details of the rescue, […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
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.
Serbia says KFOR rejected its forces’ return to Kosovo