Saturday

15th Aug 2020

EU and Serbia say Eulex murder was political

  • Eulex at work: Borchardt said the mission is 'trying to do something good' for local people (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

EU officials and Serb politicians have said the killing of an EU policeman in north Kosovo on Thursday (19 September) is designed to harm the peace process.

Speaking at a press conference in Pristina the same day, Samuel Zbogar, the EU's top envoy in Kosovo, said: "We have a strong feeling that this attack was directed against the normalisation that we are trying to facilitate in Kosovo and in north Kosovo."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said in Belgrade: "It's not a shot at Eulex [the EU police mission in Kosovo], but at the future of the Serb people in Kosovo, Serbia and the future of its citizens."

Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's deputy PM, added: "Those who believe that such crimes can get away unpunished should know that they will never have a safe haven in the territory of Serbia."

Dacic himself on 19 April in Brussels agreed a plan with Kosovo leader Hashim Thaci to "normalise" relations with Kosovo, which split from Serbia in the 1990s Balkan wars.

The plan includes holding municipal elections in north Kosovo - a self-ruled, ethnic-Serb enclave - in November before putting the region under Pristina's control.

Serbia's implementation of the deal is being watched by EU countries before they set a date for starting EU-Serbia accession talks.

Ethnic Serbs in north Kosovo, who operate paramilitary forces, have held protests against the Dacic-Thaci plan.

But the region is also home to violent organised crime groups who make a fortune from cross-border smuggling.

The incident occurred at 07.30am local time near the town of Zvecan.

Eulex chief Bernd Borchardt told press that a "person or persons" opened fire from an "ambush" on two Eulex cars on a routine customs patrol.

The deceased, Audrius Senavicius, a 35-year-old father of two sons, later died in a hospital in the town of Mitrovica from multiple gunshot wounds. He had arrived in Kosovo in August 2012.

Another man in the same car, a Czech-origin Eulex officer, is in hospital being treated for suspected internal injuries.

Borchardt thanked Serbia for its offer to help bring the killer to justice.

"If someone tries to escape, we would gladly take their [Serbia's] help, I mean to escape across the boundary line [between north Kosovo and Serbia]," he said.

Amid messages of condolence from EU foreign ministers and from Nato, Borchardt added: "I am shocked, very deeply shocked, at the callous nature of the murder."

For her part, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement that she is also "deeply saddened." But she added that the EU will "press on with its work in the context of the EU-facilitated dialogue" on Kosovo-Serbia relations.

Violent clashes between ethnic Serbs and Eulex, Kosovo police or Nato personnel are nothing new in north Kosovo.

In August 2011, a sniper shot and killed a Kosovar policeman, Enver Zymberi, a 22-year-old father of four.

But the Eulex death is its first one since the mission began work in 2008.

Around 40 people have died while serving in EU civilian and military crisis operations abroad in the past 15 years, most of them in the Western Balkans or in Africa.

Ashton clinches Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia is to get a date for EU entry talks, Kosovo is to get control over its north and EU foreign policy chief Ashton got kudos after a breakthrough in talks.

Magazine

EU defuses Balkan time bomb

Local elections in Balkan towns rarely make international headlines. But when masked men used baseball bats to smash ballot boxes in Kosovo's north Mitrovica, the world took note.

Column

Lebanon is a new focal point

More than the tangible destruction, the explosion in the port of Beirut meant the ultimate destruction of hope for many civilians.

News in Brief

  1. Most EU states oppose US sanctions on Russia pipeline
  2. UK imposes quarantine on France, Netherlands, Malta
  3. At least 3.5m EU nationals to stay in UK
  4. UK urged to 'calm down' on migrants
  5. Pompeo starts EU tour with anti-Chinese 5G deal
  6. Dutch lawsuit seeks billions from tech firms
  7. Amazon people urge EU banks to stop funding pollution
  8. Russia vaccine could be "dangerous", Germany says

Feature

The Hagia Sophia and the global battle of symbols

The Turkish president's decision to restart Islamic worship services in Istanbul's Hagia Sophia last Friday is not innocent. So how should we react? By doing the opposite - and make Cordoba's famous Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba a museum.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us