In a recent development, the State Department issued a stern rebuke of Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, for what they consider “uncoordinated actions in North Mitrovica.” The latest actions, they assert, are contrary to their requests to avoid escalating tensions in the volatile region.
A State Department spokesperson, speaking to Pavlovic Today, stated, “We are aware that the municipal government of North Mitrovica has taken a decision to require employees of several Serbian government-run offices to depart from the building where they have been operating.”
The Biden administration has consistently urged Kosovo, including its mayors in the northern municipalities, to exercise restraint and refrain from taking any actions that could heighten tensions or be seen as provocative. The State Department emphasized that these actions by Kosovo authorities were not coordinated with the international community and are at odds with their specific requests to prevent escalations.
“We consider these actions, which have not been coordinated with the international community, as inconsistent with our requests to avoid actions that could escalate tensions or be perceived as escalatory,” a State Department spokesperson told The Pavlovic Today.
The State Department continues to stress the importance of diplomatic dialogue in resolving disputes between Belgrade and Pristina through the EU-facilitated dialogue.
Petkovic: Pristina is the only party pushing for conflicts and instability
This news development from the State Departmnet comes amid the September 8 deadline for the eviction of Serbian-led institutions from their premises in Bošnjačka Mahala, Mitrovica North. This contentious deadline, which has the potential to spark further unrest in the region, originates from a controversial decision by Mayor Erden Atiq, who secured his position with only a few hundred votes.
Originally slated for implementation on August 25, Atiq’s decision to evict Serbian institutions was delayed for two weeks following concerns expressed by diplomatic leaders from the European Union and the United States. Nevertheless, this postponement offered only temporary relief, and the situation remains volatile as the new deadline draws near.
EU spokesperson Peter Stano voiced concern at the eleventh hour before the initial August 25 deadline, expressing reservations about the decisions made by the North Mitrovica Municipality administration regarding the utilization of public spaces, buildings, and municipal facilities.
“The matter of Serbian-led structures should be addressed in the dialogue facilitated by the EU and resolved in the context of the establishment of the Association/Community of Municipalities with a Serbian majority,” he remarked.
However, Prime Minister Kurti’s government appears to be intent on circumventing the agreed-upon Ohrid Agreement, which stipulates the implementation of the Association of Serb-majority municipalities, rather than resorting to force that could potentially destabilize northern Kosovo and the wider region.
On Thursday morning, local time, Prime Minister Kurti deployed Kosovo police officers outside the disputed building in Bošnjačka Mahala, citing information about a potential bomb threat.
Significantly, this building is the same one from which Mayor Atiq ordered the eviction of Serbian institutions by September 8th. As a result, the Serbian government now harbors suspicions that Prime Minister Kurti may be orchestrating an attempt to seize control of the facility through deception. Serbs in Northern Kosovo fear that Kurti’s actions imply an effort to compel employees to vacate the premises under the false pretext of a bomb threat.
In response to these developments and the looming deadline, Petar Petkovic, Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija and the chief negotiator for Belgrade, has appealed to international diplomatic actors to stop Pristina from unilateral actions that can cause further instability.
The Pavlovic Today obtained a diplomatic note in which Petkovic requests “urgent action” from the EU and the US, urging Kurti to promptly and permanently refrain from any attempts to take control of facilities housing Serbian institutions.
Petkovic expressed, “Pristina is the only party pushing for conflicts and instability. It would be tragic if Pristina managed to achieve that against the wishes and will of all citizens of Mitrovica North, the entire North, as well as Belgrade and the entire international community, who have been working for months to repair the damage caused by Pristina’s destructive actions and ensure a peaceful life for ordinary people.”
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