Skip to comments.EU withdraws from Kosovo as Serbia protests
Posted on 02/23/2008 10:09:12 PM PST by bruinbirdman
Hopes for a peaceful conclusion to the declaration of Kosovo's independence were fading as the European Union announced it had withdrawn its staff from the north of the fledgling country in the face of increasingly angry Serb protests.
The civilian staff were meant to be preparing for the EU to take over responsibility for security in Kosovo from the United Nations.
The announcement of the withdrawal came as the United States - which backed Kosovo's drive for independence - began to evacuate its American staff and their families from Serbia, offering US citizens the chance to join a convoy of 40 cars leaving Belgrade for Croatia.
"We are not sufficiently confident that they are safe here," said US ambassador Cameron Munter. On Thursday protesters stormed and burned the US embassy in Belgrade. A week after tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the Kosovan capital Pristina to celebrate the country's unilateral declaration of independence, Kosovo is already effectively partitioned.
The mostly Serb-populated northern region around the divided town of Mitrovica, next to the Serbian border, has made it clear that it wants no part of the newborn country that Serb officials consider "illegal". The bridge on the Ibar River that divides the Albanian and the Serb parts of Mitrovica has been closed to traffic, guarded by UN police and Nato on one side, and Serb strongmen on the other.
At the same time, KFOR, the Nato-led peacekeeping force, sealed the border to Serbia, after angry mobs torched border crossings. "This is a beginning of a secession of the northern part of Kosovo," Oliver Ivanovic, a Kosovo Serb leader from Mitrovica, told The Sunday Telegraph. "I fear it will lead to attacks on the remaining Albanians living in northern Mitrovica to force them to flee across the river.
The Albanians would then retaliate on the Serbian enclaves throughout Kosovo, and the ethnic cleansing will be completed under the eyes of the international community." According to Mr Ivanovic, while the Serb government officially pledges never to accept Kosovo's independence, some individual officials and their political groups are quietly orchestrating the secession. He himself was sidelined as a moderate leader and his influence diminished as the situation escalated and Belgrade-sponsored extremists won the upper hand.
Yesterday Peter Feith, the EU's Kosovo envoy, said security concerns were behind the withdrawal of his staff from northern Kosovo. They had been preparing the ground for a 2,000-strong EU rule of law mission. "I would like to appeal to the Serb community to be generous and to turn the page and look forward to working together with us," he said. "We hope that conditions will soon allow us to resume our activities."
Slobodan Samardzic, the minister for Kosovo in the Serb government, deemed the attacks on the border crossings "legitimate" and said they were in "accordance with the Serbian government's policy." Britain, the US and other Western countries have recognised independent Kosovo as a sovereign state, prompting criticism from countries such as Russia, a staunch Serb ally, but also China and some EU members, notably Spain, who claim the move to be a dangerous precedent that would weaken the rule of international law and encourage separatist movements across the world.
In the Serb part of Mitrovica, anti-independence rallies have been held every day since the independence declaration last Sunday, in an atmosphere of increasing tension and lawlessness instigated by Belgrade-paid agitators. Serbian government officials address the angry crowds as rocks, bottles and fireworks are being hurled at the UN police guarding the bridge, while thugs in track suits and leather jackets cruise the town as self-appointed guardians of security.
Officers of the Kosovo Police Service (KPS), the multi-ethnic police force which serves in northern Mitrovica, said they will no longer take orders from Pristina following the independence declaration and have vowed to swap their uniforms for those of the Serbian police. "I did not join the force to serve an illegal Albanian state. The capital of my state is Belgrade, as stipulated by the United Nations Resolution 1244.
I will soon change this uniform for a Serbian one and continue to serve my people," a KPS officer serving in Mitrovica told the Sunday Telegraph under the condition of anonymity. On the street dotted with Serbian and Russian flags and banners with anti-independence slogans, the police officer was engaged in a cordial conversation with one of the thugs known as 'bridge watchers', whose job is to make sure no Albanian crosses the bridge. He said: "We will not create incidents but we will not tolerate any form of Albanian rule. This is and it will always remain Serbia. We may be small, but we have the full support of Serbia and Russia. And we have weapons, should we be forced to protect ourselves."
Russia has already threatened to use force in Kosovo, and Serbia has sent dozens of busloads of protesters to support the rallies in the north. But following several days of unrest, KFOR decided to seal the border and halt the influx of potential protesters from Serbia. "We have issued orders not to let buses through or any individuals who could pose a potential threat to the security of Kosovo. We are also fully able and ready to prevent any clashes between Serbs and Albanians, "a KFOR spokesperson said.
Indeed, dozens of armoured vehicles and tanks have been deployed at key points in the border region, after Belgrade officials announced that they would march into Kosovo in their thousands albeit for peaceful rallies. "KFOR troops are trained and well-equipped to answer any challenges coming from inside or outside of Kosovo," a radio advertisement, paid for by KFOR, warns Serbian listeners.
But Mr Ivanovic, is sceptical. "In case of real clashes KFOR will first protect themselves and then come to count the causalities. The Serbs here have access to weapons, and I know that the Albanians living on this side of the river have recently been armed. "I see no reason for optimism."
Another war on the way?
Sure looks like it.
The Hidden Army Of Radical Islam
The EU and UN pack their graft and flee. There’s a shocker.
Where this will end, nobody knows.
I remember this forum during the end of the Milosevic administration. At the time, the poop was Bill Clinton could not pull the trigger the EU wanted. Not until Hillary demanded he start bombing.
Yugoslavia just was never the kind of socialist state the EU/Clinton wanted. It was too independent. Tito stood up to Stalin and his successors.
The modern socialists forgot that Albania was also independent. Those commies loved Mao.
So we now have independent Serbs fighting independent Albanians just like a decade ago.
For Sale. Even more surplus rifles..never fired and only dropped once.
Isn’t this the same ‘war’ that caused WWI? The same animosities? And probably hundreds of years before then. And I read this morning that Kosovo has no commerce, no government, no nothing. They will be a welfare state of — the EU? The US? Condi? All it is is they WANT!
The Euroweenies are surrendering again?
The sun will rise again tomorrow...
Get our troops out of this civil war and let them settle their own affairs.
Looks like France is leading the way once again...
Earth to Bush - STAY OUT OF THIS MESS!
Of course the EU pulls out.
“MNTF-N is deployed in the northern region of Kosovo, headquartered in Nove Selo and is commanded by Brigadier General Eric Arnaud (French Army). Contributing nations: Belgium, Denmark, France (Lead nation), Greece, Estonia, Luxemburg, Morocco.” -from Wikipedia
Looks like France is leading the way once again...
12 posted on 02/24/2008 1:55:29 AM EST by Left2Right
Leading the way with all their tails in between each others legs?...Pun intended.
Get our troops out of this abomination. What were the President and Rice thinking? Uphold UN resolution 1244.
This was the war that Hillary started to get Bill off the newspaper headlines about his screwing Monica Lewinsky.
This turned out well. Kosovo will become another failed Muslim state ripe for the pickings by al-Qaeda. The only way to prop it up will be with huge amounts of US money. The Kosovars may be waving American flags now, but I predict they will soon be burning them.
Iran has a security pact with Serbia.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.