„Just off the phone with Department of State Counselor Derek Chollet about this troubling development. In my meeting Monday in Pristina with PM Kurti, he made no reference of a plan to access municipal buildings. As a friend of Kosovo, I am caught totally by surprise and he should end this provocation immediately,” the US senator, Chris Murphy, who recently visited the region, said today.
While re-tweeting the US Ambassador Jeffrey Hovenier’s post condemning today’s actions of the Kosovo authorities in the north with a request to Pristina to immediately halt what he described as violent measures, Murphy also said:
“Yes, these municipalities are part of Kosovo and under Pristina’s jurisdiction. These officials have the technical legal right to access these buildings. But at this exact moment, with the situation so tense in the north, it is an intentionally provocative and unnecessary step.”
Since this morning, the Kosovo police have been assisting the ethnic Albanian mayors to forcibly enter the Provisional Authority’s buildings in three northern municipalities – Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic, following the disapproval of the move by the local Serb-majority population.
Riots broke out in all three municipalities between local residents who had gathered and the police. At least ten civilians and five policemen were injured. Two police vehicles were destroyed.
There is still no confirmed information on the whereabouts of Albanian mayors Izmir Zeqiri, Lulzim Hetemi and Ilir Peci.
The local Serbs were not the only ones taken aback by today’s developments, which occurred only a day after three Albanian mayors took oaths in the Albanian villages of Zvecan, Zubin Potok and Leposavic, but this seems to be the case with the international community as well.
It is believed that the decision to hold swearing-in ceremonies for the mayors outside the municipal buildings of the Republic of Serbia was pushed on the Kosovo authorities by international representatives, who expressed fear of an escalation of the situation in the north.
American officials were particularly vocal on this matter, saying that, due to the Serb boycott of local elections, it was a technical and not a political mandate.
The US strongly condemned the actions taken by Kosovo authorities, and the US Ambassador Jeffrey Hovenier called for a halt to today’s „violent measures“.
„The United States condemns the ongoing action by Kosovan authorities to access municipal buildings in the north of Kosovo. Today’s violent measures should be immediately halted,“ he tweeted.
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