22nd Oct 2020

EU ministers consider Kosovo security forces amid unrest

EU defence ministers are discussing the possibility of building a special security force in Kosovo as well as measures needed to prevent clashes spreading to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"We want to set up a unit in charge of protecting Kosovo. We want to create a Kosovo security force which would allow it to assure its own security," Germany's defence chief Franz Josef Jung said on late Thursday (21 February), AFP reported.

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His remarks came at the start of a two-day informal meeting of defence ministers in Brdo pri Kranju in Slovenia, the current EU presidency country.

The German minister stressed that the presence of KFOR peacekeepers led by NATO in the region remains "necessary" for the moment, referring to violent activities by Serbs in northern part of Kosovo at the border crossings with Serbia, earlier this week.

EU defence chiefs also debated the prospect of violence spreading to Bosnia and Hercegovina where some Serbs in Republika Srbska are demanding a break-away from the federation.

The bloc's foreign chief Javier Solana suggested that if more forces are needed to prevent clashes "there is a reserve that is prepared, but I don't think they will be needed."

Serbs draw international criticism

Meanwhile, the US and UN have strongly criticised Serbian attacks on the American embassy in Belgrade which followed a massive rally attended by up to 200,000 people against Kosovo's proclaimed independence on Thursday.

The incident involved around 1,000 protesters who broke into the US embassy while throwing flares through a window and setting part of it on fire which raged for half an hour.

When firemen finally managed to get inside the building they found an unidentified body, BBC reported. US officials later confirmed it was none of their staff.

The White House said that the US authorities had warned Belgrade to prevent such clashes happening again and the UN security council condemned such "mob attacks" on foreign embassies, reminding the Serbian authorities of the inviolability of diplomatic missions under international law.

EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn also "strongly condemned" the attacks, adding "We respect the democratic right of the Serbian people to voice their opinion on developments in Kosovo, but the use of violence for expressing one's opinion is unacceptable."

"I appeal for calm in Serbia and in the wider region. We urge all Serbian politicians to call for restraint and avoid statements that could further inflame the situation," Mr Rehn stated on Friday (22 February).

Kosovo to restart EU/US-led Serbia talks

Restarting talks on Serbia relations will be the new Kosovo prime minister's top priority, he said, but will the EU or the US lead the process?

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