US punishes Kosovo for forcibly putting in Albanian mayors, cancels Nato exercise

Tensions have escalated in northern Kosovo following the pressured installation of ethnic Albanian mayors in majority-Serb areas, resulting in the United States taking measures in opposition to the country. Clashes between police, NATO troops, and Serb protesters in Zvecan resulted in injuries to 30 peacekeepers and fifty two demonstrators. In response, NATO plans to deploy an additional seven hundred troops to the region.
Privy started in April when local elections in north Kosovo were boycotted by ethnic Serbs, leading to ethnic Albanians taking management of native councils with a turnout of less than 4%. Both the US and the European Union have accused Kosovo of destabilising the situation and warned against actions that could exacerbate ethnic tensions.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has been recognised by the US and major EU countries. However, Serbia, backed by Russia, refuses to recognise Kosovo’s independence, as do most ethnic Serbs throughout the country. While ethnic Albanians make up over 90% of Kosovo’s population, Serbs are the bulk in the northern area.
The US ambassador in Pristina, Jeffrey Hovenier, said that the US “foresaw the consequences” of forcibly putting in ethnic-Albanian mayors in four majority-Serb municipalities. Despite being a powerful ally of Kosovo, the US “strongly advised” Prime Minister Albin Kurti to alter his plan of action. However, this recommendation was ignored, resulting in Kosovo’s expulsion from taking part within the NATO train, Defender Europe 23. Hovenier additionally said the US was considering additional measures and presently “has no enthusiasm” to assist Kosovo in gaining wider worldwide recognition or progressing towards EU and NATO membership.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovan PM Albin Kurti have traded accusations over the violent incidents. Vucic claimed Kurti “alone is responsible” for the disturbances, while Kurti alleged the protesters in Zvecan were “a bunch of extremists underneath the course of official Belgrade”.
NATO’s chief, Jens Stoltenberg, referred to as for an end to the violence and condemned the “unprovoked assaults in opposition to KFOR troops” – NATO’s peacekeeping pressure in Kosovo. Ethnic Serbs in north Kosovo, nevertheless, criticised KFOR for failing to forestall armed Kosovo police from coming into municipal buildings and eradicating Serbian flags..

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