On Friday, violence broke out between police and demonstrators in Kosovo, with Serbia claiming that NATO-led peacekeepers did not do enough to prevent it. The United Kingdom condemned Kosovo, but the prime minister of Kosovo stated that police were defending democratic elections.
Serbia criticised NATO-led forces for Kosovo’s police’s “brutal actions” against ethnic Serbs.
Friday’s violent confrontations left more than a dozen individuals injured.
When ethnic Serbs attempted to prevent newly elected Albanian mayors from entering local government buildings, violence erupted.
The throng was dispersed with tear gas so that the new officials could enter their offices.
Several automobiles were set ablaze during the disorder.
Countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, France, and Germany condemned Kosovo, stating that the use of force to install mayors in ethnic Serb areas undermined efforts to repair relations with Serbia.
Last month, local elections were held. Ethnic Serbs generally shunned them, and only ethnic Albanian or other minority representatives were elected.
In response to the clashes, the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, ordered forces to be stationed closer to the border with Kosovo and instructed them to maintain “the highest level of combat readiness.”
After meeting with Serbia’s top political and security officials, Mr. Vucic said NATO-led forces “did not do their job” safeguarding Serbs.
This is not the first time Mr. Vucic has warned that Serbia will respond to violence against ethnic Serbs, nor is it the first time he has increased combat readiness during periods of tension with Kosovo.
Any attempt by Serbia to cross the frontier, however, would result in a confrontation with NATO troops stationed there.
Albin Kurti, the prime minister of Kosovo, defended the police action.
“It is the right of those elected through democratic elections to assume office without threats or intimidation,” he tweeted.
“Citizens also have the opportunity to be served by these elected officials. In a democracy, participation, not violent obstruction, is the proper method to express political views.”
Saturday, NATO officials urged Kosovo to reduce tensions with Serbia.
“We urge the institutions in Kosovo to immediately de-escalate and urge all parties to resolve the situation through dialogue,” spokeswoman Oana Lungescu tweeted.
She stated that KFOR, the 3,800-strong peacekeeping mission in Kosovo headed by NATO, would remain vigilant.
Many Serbs still consider Belgrade their capital and reject Serbia’s 2008 declaration of independence.
In Kosovo, ethnic Albanians constitute more than 90 percent of the population, with Serbs dominating only the northern region.