The Latest: Serbia president asks Putin for advice on Kosovo
PRISTINA, Kosovo — The Latest on Kosovo-Serbia tension (all times local)
Serbia’s president says he has spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking him for advice on how to counter Kosovo’s “violence and aggression” against the Serbs.
Aleksandar Vucic’s office said in a statement that he informed Putin about the “brutal attack” by Kosovo police on Monday against a senior Serb official who was arrested and expelled after entering the country without an official permit.
The statement also said that Vucic sought Putin’s advice “because it’s perfectly clear that (Kosovo) Albanians have wide support of numerous Western states for their unilateral declaration of independence” a decade ago.
The statement didn’t say whether Putin had offered any specific advice.
While Russia supports Serbia’s claims over its former province, the U.S. and most Western states have recognized Kosovo’s independence. Russia has been trying to expand its influence in the Balkans mainly through its traditional Slavic ally Serbia.
The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin has strongly condemned the arrest of a senior Serbian official by Kosovo police in a call with the Serbian president.
It said in a statement that Putin and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday discussed the issue of Kosovo “in the context of the provocative action by Pristina authorities” against Marko Djuric, the head of the Serbian government office for Kosovo.
The statement added that Putin expressed “resolute condemnation” of Djuric’s arrest, which he said violated a U.N. Security Council’s resolution.
Monday’s arrest and expulsion of Djuric angered Serbia and Kosovo Serbs, who don’t recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. The incident also has fueled fears of renewed instability in the region.
Kosovo’s Serb minority has demanded that the country’s interior minister and police chief resign over the arrest and expulsion of a senior official from Serbia’s government amid soaring tensions between the bitter foes.
Kosovo police detained Marko Djuric, the head of the Serbian government office for Kosovo, in the divided northern town of Mitrovica on Monday because he entered the country without Kosovo’s official approval. He was later expelled under police escort.
Monday’s actions angered Serbia and Kosovo Serbs, who don’t recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. The incident also has fueled fears of renewed instability in the region. The U.S. and the European Union have been trying to help resolve the
The United States has strongly condemned the recent friction between Kosovo and Serbia, saying it could “unnecessarily heighten tensions and threaten regional stability.”
Marko Djuric, the head of the Serbian government office for Kosovo, was briefly detained in the divided town of Mitrovica on Monday because he entered the country without Kosovo’s official approval. He was expelled under police escort.
The following day, Russia became involved in the dispute and the European Union sent its foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on an urgent trip to Belgrade.
A statement from the U.S. State Department on Tuesday urged all parties to avoid further escalation and resolve disputes peacefully.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, against Belgrade’s wishes, in 2008.