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Europe News

Serbian President Vucic vows to secure peace amid simmering ethnic tensions in Kosovo

Following a meeting of Serbia’s National Security Council, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has pledged to keep the peace but says his army is ready to protect the Serbian minority living in neighboring Kosovo.

Speaking after the meeting with Serbian national TV channel RTS, Vucic said “we have taken certain measures to protect our homeland”.

“I gave orders and the National Security Council accepted them. I am very proud of our soldiers and police. Before they receive orders…we will try a million times to keep the peace,” did he declare.

Tensions remain high in northern Kosovo, between the authorities in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, and ethnic Serbs.

Roads were blocked with heavy vehicles and trucks by Serb protesters, reportedly after a former Kosovo Serb policeman was arrested on Saturday.

The policeman in question was part of a mass resignation of Serbs from the force in November after Pristina said he would force Serbs to remove Serbian license plates dating from before the 1998-1999 Kosovo war which led to independence.

There was also an incident in which Serb demonstrators threw a stun grenade at an armored vehicle of EULEX, an EU mission tasked with patrolling northern Kosovo. No one was hurt.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti called the protesters “criminal gangs” and called on the NATO-led Kosovo Peacekeeping Force (KFOR) to remove the barricades.

Kurti also accused Serbia of trying to sabotage the EU-brokered dialogue on normalizing bilateral relations and taking it to the UN Security Council, where Serbia could seek support from its allies, the Russia and China.

Vucic says he will ask the NATO-led force to allow the deployment of 1,000 Serb troops to Serb-populated northern Kosovo, saying they are being harassed there. It is a request that will certainly be rejected as it would contravene the two-decade-old peace agreement.

Tensions have been high in Kosovo since it declared independence from Serbia, despite attempts by European and American officials to defuse them.

Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo’s statehood.

Watch the video in the player above.

euronews Gt

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