As friction persists between the Kosovo Serb community and the authorities in Pristina, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has sent the army chief to the field. The general specifies that the situation is “complicated and complex”.
On the evening of December 25, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic dispatched the army chief, General Milan Mojsilovic, about ten kilometres from the province of Kosovo, where the Serbs erected barricades in a new rise in tensions.
The chief of staff of the Serbian army, reached by telephone by pink television, indicated that he was on the road to Raska, a town located about ten kilometres from Kosovo, after meeting President Vucic in Belgrade.
“The missions entrusted to the Serbian army […] are precise, clear and will be fully implemented,” General Mojsilovic said.
“The situation there is complicated and complex, and it requires in the coming period the presence of the Serbian army along the administrative line,” he added.
A marginalized Serbian community
On December 15, the Serbian President declared that he intended to “ask” the command of the NATO force present in Kosovo, KFOR, for authorization to deploy “up to 1,000 soldiers and police” so that they protect the Serb populations present in the region. A request which had been officially transmitted on December 16.
The Serbian province of Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence in February 2008. It is now recognized by the United States and many Western countries but not by China, Russia, India or Spain.
Belgrade supports the Serbian community in this predominantly Albanian province at a time when Pristina seeks to assert its sovereignty over the entire territory.
Since December 10, several hundred Serbs have erected roadblocks in northern Kosovo to protest the arrest of a former Serbian police officer, impeding transportation to the rest of Serbia.
Shortly before the deployment of General Mojsilovic, numerous Serbian media outlets aired a video posted on social networks in which gunshots were audible, saying that they occurred as Kosovo forces attempted to demolish a barrier in the early evening.
The Kosovo police disputed these charges immediately on their Facebook page, claiming that their members had not participated in any firefights.
The media in Pristina, on the other hand, reported that a patrol of the Kosovo Peacekeeping Force (KFOR) was in the area of the fire but that no injuries or property damage were reported. KFOR, which lately bolstered its northern presence, did not communicate regarding the event.