Kurti: Situation in north could have escalated into armed conflict

Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said in an interview with Radio Free Europe today that on July 31, in the northern municipalities of Kosovo, there was a risk of the situation escalating into an armed conflict.

Kurti said that the roadblocks in the north, which were set up in opposition to the decision on license plates and entry documents for Serbian nationals, were positioned in a way that allowed for shots to be fired at vehicles and people crossing through that area.
Kurti said he will not discuss the decisions on license plates and entry documents at the meeting he will have with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on August 18 in Brussels. He argued that to avoid a situation where the July 31 tensions could be repeated on September 1, international factors must oppose Belgrade and its destructive policy vis-à-vis Kosovo. “We will do everything in our power to avoid them but it certainly depends on how much the international factors will manage to oppose Belgrade in its destructive approach toward our country, our constitutional order, and the freedom and security of our citizens,” he said.
Asked about the agenda of the meeting in Brussels, Kurti said that there is no official information about the agenda, “but what we have exchanged with Borrell is that we should aim for a dialogue for an agreement, not dialogue for dialogue, an agreement that should be legally-binding, which achieves full normalization and is centered on mutual recognition”. “In this respect, I am interested to discuss on August 18 about the comprising elements of the overall framework of the agreement that we want to achieve through the dialogue,” he said.
Kurti said he has doubts about infiltrations from Russia because, in his opinion, the Kremlin wants to use Serbia as a platform to destabilize the Balkans, and in particular to attack Kosovo. Asked about the Russian national that was stopped and declared persona non grata in Kosovo and if her intentions in Kosovo are known, Kurti said: “there is no doubt that she did not have good intentions. Those that interviewed her, came to this conclusion. This is a person that is well known in many countries of Eastern Europe for her destructive activity in the service of the Kremlin. It is no coincidence that she tried to enter Kosovo through the border crossing in the north. So she was in Serbia where she was probably welcomed and from there she tried to enter Kosovo and our authorities stopped her and then expelled her. It is no surprise that she came from Serbia because Russia wants to use Serbia as a platform to destabilize the Balkans and in particular to attack Kosovo, which is a success story of the NATO intervention to stop Serbia’s genocide in the spring of 1999 and a success story of economic development and a qualitative democracy.”
As per the Association of Serb-majority municipalities, Kurti said organizations are needed that bring municipalities with geographical or economic features, but not ethnic-based organizations.
Asked if he still believes that a final settlement with Serbia can be reached during his term in office, Kurti said: “I think that within this mandate there are the possibilities, the readiness, and the interest to reach a legally-binding agreement for the full normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, centered on mutual recognition. The being of Kosovo is in order, we are an independent, sovereign, and democratic state. What is not in order is our relationship with Serbia. This is an abnormal relationship, and it needs to be normalized”.