January 23, 2012
Kosovo police prevented up to 2,000 ethnic Albanian nationalist protesters from the nationalist Self-Determination movement from blocking border crossings with Serbia. Podujeve.
Besiane (Podujevo), KOSOVO – by Vedat Xhymshiti
| Sunday, January 22, 2012 | DEMOTiX/The IndependenT NewsweeK |
Police in anti-riot gear stopped around 1,000 protesters from the nationalist Self-Determination Movement from moving beyond Podujevo, a town in northern Kosovo some six kilometres (four miles) from the main Merdare crossing to Serbia.
“We are against Serbia and we will protect the (Kosovo) republic and our domestic products,” Self-Determination leader Albin Kurti told journalists.
Vetevendosje, or Self-Determination, has 14 deputies in the 120-seat parliament and is known for its radical stands. It tried a blockade of border crossing with Serbia on Saturday, January 14, 2012 – to prevent imports of Serbian goods, claiming Kosovo exports were barred by Serbia, but they faced brutal attack by state riot police forces who didn’t spare even journalists. The last weekend protest saw over 50 people wounded, including 31 police officers.
Self-Determination Movement, which is the third biggest party in the Kosovo parliament, opposes all contact with Serbia and is working for unification with neighbouring Albania. The European Union has described the protests as “completely unjustified”.
Belgrade and Pristina have been at loggerheads since Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008. But the two sides agreed to free trade in September after months of EU-mediated talks. Some 90 percent of imported food in Kosovo comes from 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.