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Kosovo: Serbs raise rancor in parliament

last update: April 19, 15:04

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Pristina, 19 April (AKI) - Kosovo's parliament debated the situation in the Serb-populated north late on Wednesday, at the request of opposition parties, as local television showed armed ethnic Albanians allegedly moving the area.

The opposition criticized the government of prime minister Hashim Thaci for not establishing control over the northern part of the country, where local Serbs oppose Kosovo independence and run their own institutions supported by Belgrade.

Serbia and Kosovo Serbs oppose independence declared by majority Albanians in 2008, which has been recognized by more than eighty countries, including the United States and 22 out of 27 members of the European Union.

The international community, which supervises Kosovo independence, has demanded that Belgrade should dismantle “parallel institutions” in the north and allow Pristina to establish control on the entire territory if Serbia wanted to proceed towards EU membership.

An opposition MP, Ardian Djini, told parliament the situation in the north was worse than four years ago and blamed the government for failing to “solve the problems” and to create a “normal situation”.

Defending government position, police minister Bajram Redzepi blamed tensions in the north on the “activities of Serb criminal groups”, but said the situation was under control thanks to Kosovo police, NATO forces (KFOR) and EU mission EULEX.

Meanwhile, several local television stations showed ethnic Albanian armed groups in civilian clothes allegedly moving in the area, which prompted immediate protests from Belgrade.

“The appearance of armed groups in the north is a result of Pristina’s intentions to put the north under its control by violent and unilateral acts,” Serbian minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic told media.

KFOR spokesman Mark Stimmler told reporters "there were no signs of more or less armed (people) in Kosovo than usual". KFOR got no request to carry out an investigation, he added.

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