Breaking: In a twisted form of political expression, Serb mobs (which included Serb officers) opposed to Kosovo’s independence torched not one, but two Kosovo border posts. The situation became so bad that NATO peacekeepers were called in to restore order and evacuate the police officers manning the posts.
While it is fine to take out your frustrations on the current state of affairs, torching border posts with angry mobs certainly is not the best expenditure of energy. In fact, taking such actions not only undermines the protestor’s very arguments, but underscores the very reason why Kosovo’s independence from Belgrade was necessary.
The recent flashpoint has raised two obvious questions. First, will NATO have to increase their presence from 17,000 troops? Second, will the Serbian government say anything publically to condemn these actions by Serb mobs?
As for the first question, NATO will likely have to increase their presence, at least for the short term. These types of coordinated actions are designed to provoke and inflame — both of which are recipes for disaster.
As for the second question, it has been over one hour since the incidents and still not a squeak by anyone in the Serbian government. I would ask Serbian government officials like Mr. Tadic and Mr. Kostunica to appeal for calm, but given their fighting words and Balkan posturing in the last few days, I sincerely doubt that any such words will be uttered. I also hope that PM Thaci says something to the Kosovars to remain calm as well.
Sparks in this region quickly turn into wildfires.
NATO peacekeepers in newly independent Kosovo intervened on Tuesday as Serb mobs opposed to its secession attacked border posts and police fled. Serbs burned down one border post and were attacking a second, a Kosovo police spokesman said. Police manning the post called for help from the NATO peacekeeping force, KFOR, which said it was stepping in.
KFOR is going to intervene now,” a force spokesman said. He declined to say which troops of the 35-nation, 17,000-strong force were being deployed.
“We are inches from partition,” said a Western official. He said he believed it was “only a matter of time before KFOR closes the bridges” that cross the River Ibar in the flashpoint city of Mitrovica, dividing Kosovo Serbs from Albanians.
A spokesman for the EU’s International Civilian Office, whose Dutch leader Pieter Feith is expected in Kosovo any day, said there was no plan to withdraw a small advance EU team from the north side of Mitrovica. They would stay on and carry out their mandate, he told Reuters. KFOR forces in the district include French, Danish, Belgian and American units.
“The border crossing post at Jarinje is on fire and the mob has dispersed,” one eyewitness said. Albanian officers of the Kosovo police retreated and Serb officers crossed over into Serbia proper, police sources added.
Angry Serb demonstrations and two nights of vandalism against vehicles and symbols of the international presence in Kosovo have thrown down a gauntlet to the incoming “EULEX” mission. NATO had said on Monday conditions on the ground in Kosovo were quiet after its declaration of independence and there was no current need to reinforce its peacekeeping force.
Article can be found here.