Politics, Europe

Serbian President Vucic says US warns of possible measures against Belgrade over Kosovo clashes

Following phone call with Antony Blinken, Serbia's Aleksandar Vucic says they disagreed on nature of clashes in Kosovo

Talha Ozturk  | 29.09.2023 - Update : 29.09.2023
Serbian President Vucic says US warns of possible measures against Belgrade over Kosovo clashes


Serbia's president said Friday that the US' secretary of state told him of possible measures that may be taken against Belgrade as tensions rise following deadly clashes in Kosovo between ethnic Serbs and police.

"I told (Antony Blinken) — you are a big country, a big power. It's yours to do what you think you have to. I'm absolutely against that and I think it's very bad, but there are things we have to stick to, and that is first and foremost the truth," Aleksandar Vucic said after a phone conversation with Blinken.

Vucic said they had agreed on the need for de-escalation of tensions and a greater role for the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo (KFOR).

"I had a long and easy conversation with Secretary of State Blinken. There are several things that we agreed and there are several other things on which we didn't agreed. I informed him with details about the facts about the recent events in Kosovo," Vucic told media outlets.

One of the matters on which they disagreed was the nature of the clashes in Kosovo and especially issues related to Kosovo's sovereignty.

"I don't want to hide anything and I'm not interested in what anyone in the world thinks about it, because we have evidence that at least one, and possibly two persons were literally liquidated in cold blood and that they were not liquidated in battle but wounded, they were alive, they surrendered, and then they were liquidated in cold blood from a short distance," said Vucic.

According to the US Department of State's readout of the phone call, the two discussed the "importance of taking immediate measures to de-escalate tensions with Kosovo in the wake of the September 24 violence and death of a Kosovo Police Sergeant."

"The Secretary underscored that those responsible for the attacks who are now in Serbia must be held accountable," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

Blinken also voice support for the actions of KFOR and EULEX (EU rule of law mission in Kosovo), noting that incidents like those near the Banjska Monastery present "unacceptable challenges" to Kosovo force and the international community, according to Miller.

Blinken also welcomed KFOR's increased presence and the North Atlantic Council's decision to authorize additional forces, Miller said.

"The Secretary reiterated Serbia must accompany immediate de-escalation with full implementation of its commitments under the normalization agreement within the EU-facilitated Dialogue," he added.

On Sunday, a clash broke out in the village of Banjska in northern Kosovo near the Serbian border when a group of armed Serbs blocked a bridge with two trucks. A shootout erupted after the group opened fire on police, leaving one police officer dead and another injured.

The area has been the scene of unrest since April, when local ethnic Serbs boycotted elections in northern Kosovo, followed by protests against the election of ethnic Albanian mayors.

Albanians are by far the largest ethnic group in Kosovo, followed by Serbs, with about half living in the country's north.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and gained recognition from many countries, including Türkiye. But Belgrade has never recognized Kosovo and claims that its territory is still part of Serbia.

* Contributions by Rabia Iclal Turan in Washington.

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