Monday 23 September 2019

Kosovo opposition's violent protests condemned

A supporter of the opposition kicks back a gas canister at Kosovo police in Pristina (AP)
A supporter of the opposition kicks back a gas canister at Kosovo police in Pristina (AP)

The international community has strongly condemned the Kosovo opposition's "continued use of violence to achieve political goals".

A statement from the embassies of the Quint countries - Britain, France, Germany, Italy and the United States - called political violence "unacceptable" and said it is damaging Kosovo's international standing.

"We call for respect for the rule of law, democratic procedures and international norms. Political violence is unacceptable and damages the interests of Kosovo citizens and Kosovo's international standing. This benefits no one," the statement said.

In the past two months the opposition has disrupted the work of the parliament using tear gas and pepper spray, whistles and water bottles, demanding that the government renounce a deal with Serbia giving more powers to ethnic-Serb communities and another with Montenegro on border demarcation.

Outside the building their supporters have violently clashed with police, causing injuries and damage.

On Wednesday one opposition politician was arrested and three arrest warrants for other politicians were issued but police could not find them.

Scores of opposition supporters regularly gather at the main Pristina squares throwing stones and paint against the government buildings, burning or damaging cars. Police respond with tear gas and follow them in the capital's streets with armoured vehicles.

The opposition has said no more parliament sessions will be allowed unless the deals are renounced. The government accuses them of trying to come to power by force.

In 2008 Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, but that is not recognised by Belgrade. The two sides are holding EU-led talks to overcome their differences.

PA Media

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