Kosovo: ON THE VERGE OF AN ANTI-GOVERNMENT CRACKDOWN

Kosovo oppositional political party “Vetëvendosje” announced it is organizing an anti-government crackdown on Saturday, 14 January which will block the border crossings in ‘Merdare’ and ‘Dheu i Bardhë’. This...
Kosovo oppositional political party “Vetëvendosje” announced it is organizing an anti-government crackdown on Saturday, 14 January which will block the border crossings in ‘Merdare’ and ‘Dheu i Bardhë’. This action, according to the “Vetëvendosje” leaders, will be taken to protect the decision passed by the Kosovo Assembly on economic and political reciprocity steps against Serbia.

Government threatens to use force to quell civil discontent in Kosovo

Scores of anti-Serb protestors clashed with police Thursday May 12, 2011, during a landmark visit of a top Serbian official to Pristina to speak with Kosovo authorities.  Nine protesters from the opposition Self-Determination party were injured when the police used force to disperse the crowd, the party said.  Demonstrators threw stones and damaged several police and government cars. They were finally dispersed when the riot police used tear gas. (Corbis Images File Photo/Vedat Xhymshiti)

Pristina, KOSOVO by Vedat Xhymshiti
| Saturday, January 14, 2012 | The IndependenT NewsweeK |

The “Vetëvendosje” caucus leader Visar Ymeri said that non-implementation by the Government of the Kosovo’s parliament compulsory decision is unconstitutional.

Political leaders from the opposition called on citizens to join the action dubbed “in defense of the Republic, for local products”, which will take place on Saturday. The bloc vowed their agitation will last as long as the government does not take any further step of the reciprocity with its neighbor Serbia.

Local producers called for blockade  Visar Ymeri, Vetëvendosje parliamentary group chief, told reporters that local producers in Kosovo initiated the blockade against Serbia, organized by Kosovo’s main opposition party.

Ymeri said local producers requested blockades so that they can compete with products coming from Serbia. “Local producers have been insisting on measures that would bring them to an equal footing with products coming from Serbia,” Ymeri said.

He also added that the Government of Kosovo should resign as it has failed to implement the Assembly’s decision on reciprocity measures with Serbia.
“These politicians are financed by businessmen who trade with Serbia. This is why economic policies and government decisions are usually in favor of Serbia’s trade and producers.”

Glauk Konjufca, an opposition deputy, said they would not withdraw until the decision of the Assembly of Kosovo for reciprocity measures with Serbia is implemented.

“We will be completely peaceful. All we want is blockade of Serbian goods and vehicles that deal with transportation and people, that come from the Serbia and enter here with Serbian license plates while not allowing the same thing for Kosovo citizens,” said Konjufca.

CLASHES EXPECTED

Albin Kurti, a member of Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanian community, called on “all Albanians” to join the action to be organized by his nationalist Self-determination party at two border posts with Serbia on Saturday.
“We are going to make a human barricade day and night in order to block all traffic at the Merdare and Kamenica border posts in northern Kosovo”, Kurti told reporters in the Albanian capital Tirana.

Speaking in Kosovo’s capital Pristina, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci condemned Kurti’s call as “unacceptable”.

“Kosovo’s future lies in integration not barricades. The announced action for violent acts against the legal institutions of Kosovo is unacceptable,” Thaci said after a cabinet meeting in Pristina.

Kosovo Police has prepared an operational plan to prevent blocking of the border points in Merdare and Dheu i Bardhë, as well as motorways that lead to these two border points. The operational plan came after the warnings of Vetëvendosje party to block these border points, in order to implement the motion of K
osovo Assembly for reciprocity measures towards Serbia’s goods.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs has issued a press release requesting citizens of the Republic of Kosovo not to support, what they say, “illegal forms of expressing dissatisfaction.”

UNREST TO BE QUELLED

File Photo (Credit Image / Vedat Xhymshiti)
A threat to block the borders pose violent threat to the country’s institutions, Thaci declared while urging people not to respond to Self-Determination’s plans for Saturday.

The Kosovo Prime Minister called on people not to respond to opposition calls to block two main borders with Serbia, saying they will not be tolerated. PM Thaci said he never used ‘violence’ against an announced protest, while the opinion is recalling that the Serbs have locked northern Kosovo’s borders since 25 July last year.
However, PM Thaci didn’t admit that Kosovo never had a control on its northern territory since 1999.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Thaci said: “Real patriots respect the country’s constitution and do not act like Serbs in northern Kosovo, who are blocking borders and highways. For all of us the motive to build Kosovo should be European values, their model and vision, not the Serbian model,” he said.

But the Prime Minister has said opposition’s attempts to achieve its political goals through violence cannot be tolerated and would be prevented at all costs.
“This will not be tolerated, it is immoral and unacceptable for the citizens of Kosovo,” Hashim Thaci declared. “A potential risk that the situation may escalate and that violent confrontations between manipulated citizens and the police may occur”.
Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi said earlier that police have been given orders to use proportional force if protesters block the borders.
Belgrade and Pristina have been at loggerheads over bilateral trade ever since Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008. However in September, after months of negotiations mediated by the EU, the two sides agreed to implement a free trade agreement.

Kurti, a die-hard opponent of any negotiations with Serbia, has called for a unification of Kosovo and Albania.

UNEASY CALM
While everyone seems to be interested in the current socio-political developments in Kosovo, a rare and eerie silence grips the US diplomatic mission in Pristina.

Analysts suggest it is the same silence that was witnessed during last year’s developments when anti-Pristina authorities agitated in northern Kosovo, while Serbs continue the roadblocks of main roads to stop the country’s ethnic Albanian leadership from extending their control over northern parts of Kosovo.

Ethnic Albanian government in Pristina insists it will take over control of northern Kosovo but has failed to take concrete steps since last July 2011.
Scores of Serb civilians and NATO soldiers have been injured in ensuing clashes and one Kosovo policeman was killed in July. Those troubles started when Kosovo sent special police units to the northern border to enforce a trade ban with Serbia but were turned back by armed Serbs.

Critics say the US ambassador has been characterized by the usual reaction of what ever social political developments occurred in Kosovo, even though at times the American Ambassador Dell encouraged Kosovar citizens to stay at home instead of joining any kind of peaceful protests organized by anyone in Kosovo.

Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga and western ambassadors to Pristina also condemned Vetevendosje plan on border blockade. On the other hand, Kosovo minority Serbs have been blocking roads in northern Kosovo for over six months in protest against placing of Kosovo police and customs at border crossings.

Thaci said the blockade was direct attack on Kosovo institutions which were legally elected by the people. “We fully respect the constitution and Kosovo laws and no one has the righ
t to take power in his hands,” he said.



Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti has said dozens of buses of his supporters from Albania would join the protest. But Thaci said he would not allow the repetition of events in Tirana last year when four people were killed in opposition protests.
He said Vetevendosje as a party would soon sink because of its extreme stands. “We won’t allow Kosovo to sink with them,” he added.
Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo in a statement called on citizens “not to respond to calls for disruption of public order and peace”. It appealed on citizens of Kosovo “to respect constitutional order and laws of Kosovo and to preserve the security, interests and property of out country”.
Vetevendosje, or Self-Setermination, has 14 deputies in the 120-seat parliament and is known for its radical stands. It planned a blockade of border crossing with Serbia on Saturday to prevent imports of Serbian goods, claiming Kosovo exports were barred by Serbia.
Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999, when NATO bombed for 78 days to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians in a two-year counter-insurgency war under then-President Slobodan Milosevic.

More than 80 countries, including the United States and 22 of the EU’s 27 members, have recognized the state, the last to emerge from the remains of old federal Yugoslavia. But Serbia’s ally Russia has blocked a resolution on independence in the United Nations Security Council.

Vedat Xhymshiti | Promote your Page too

Vedat Xhymshiti; is an independent journalist and war correspondent. He has reported on a number of Middle Eastern conflicts from the Arab Spring in 2010 to the current Syrian civil war. He has been published in various media including Der Spiegel, NY Times, TIME, Paris Match, Le Monde ect. He is specialized in International Relations and Diplomacy. Xhymshiti is also a print media critic, a columnist for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, and founder of THEFrontliner.net

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