NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called on Pristina to reduce tensions after putting the army on high alert.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called on Kosovo to lower tensions with Serbia, two days after clashes between Kosovan police and protesters opposed to Albanian mayors occupying ethnic Serbian areas.
“Pristina must de-escalate and not take unilateral, destabilizing measures,” Stoltenberg said in a tweet on Sunday.
The secretary-general of the transatlantic military alliance said he spoke with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell about Kosovo. He added that Pristina and Belgrade should participate in the EU-led dialogue.
Serbs, who make up the majority of the population in the northern region of Kosovo, did not accept the 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia and still see Belgrade as their capital more than two decades after the war ended in 1999.
They refused to participate in local elections in April, and Albanian candidates won all four municipalities with a 3.5 percent turnout. Backed by Belgrade, they said they would not accept the mayors and would not represent them.
On Friday, small groups of ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo clashed with police as they tried to block the entrance to municipal buildings to prevent newly elected officials from entering.
The police fired tear gas and many cars were set on fire. Three of the four mayors were escorted to their offices by police, who threw stones and responded with tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters.
Following the latest unrest, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic ordered the army to be put on high alert and “start moving” towards the border with Kosovo.
On Saturday morning, Vucic chaired a meeting of the National Security Council, which adopted a plan of “security activities … aimed at strengthening the defense capabilities of Serbia”, the office the president of Serbia said in a statement.
The presidency added that “the armed forces of Serbia remain in a state of maximum alert until further notice”.
A joint statement from the embassies of the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany, known as the Quint group, and the EU office in Pristina warned Kosovo against any other measures to force access. in municipal buildings.
“We strongly warn all parties against other threats or actions that may affect a safe and secure environment, including freedom of movement, and that may exacerbate tensions or promote conflict,” said Quint and the EU.
“The new unilateral action will have a negative impact on the relations between the Quint countries and the EU.”
The US, UK and EU are the main backers of Kosovo because the country is still not a member of the United Nations due to objections from Serbia, Russia, China and others.