NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called on Kosovo on Sunday to de-escalate tensions with Serbia, two days after violent clashes between Kosovo police and protesters opposed to Albanian mayors taking office in Serbia’s ethnic regions.
Stoltenberg, the Norwegian Secretary General of the Transatlantic Military Alliance, said that he spoke with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell about Kosovo. He called on Pristina and Belgrade to participate in the dialogue led by the European Union.
“Pristina must de-escalate and not take unilateral and destabilizing measures,” Stoltenberg wrote in a tweet.
Talk to HR/VP @tweet on # Kosovo. Pristina and Belgrade must engage in EU-led dialogue now, as the only path to peace and normalization. Pristina must de-escalate and not take unilateral destabilizing steps. @tweet Will continue to ensure a safe and secure environment.
– Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) May 28, 2023
Serbs, who make up the majority of the population in Kosovo’s northern region, do not accept Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia and still see Belgrade as their capital more than two decades after the war ended in 1999.
Ethnic Albanians make up more than 90% of Kosovo’s population as a whole.
Serbs refused to participate in the April local elections, and Albanian candidates won the four municipalities by 3.5%.
Local Serbs, supported by Belgrade, said they would not accept the mayors and would not represent them.
On Friday, three out of four mayors were escorted to their offices by police. The demonstrators threw stones at the authorities, who responded with tear gas and water cannons to disperse the angry crowd.
The situation remained tense on Sunday as heavily armed policemen in armored vehicles continued to guard the mayors’ offices.