The international community has strongly condemned the Kosovo opposition’s “continued use of violence to achieve political goals.”
A statement Thursday from the embassies of the Quint countries – France, Germany, Italy, Britain 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 lawmaker was arrested and three arrest warrants for other lawmakers 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.
Kosovo in 2008 declared independence from Serbia, but that is not recognized by Belgrade. The two sides are holding EU-led talks to overcome their differences.
NATO still present
Serbian forces were pushed out of Kosovo by NATO bombing in 1999, and some 5,000 NATO troops are still stationed there in Kosovo, alongside several hundred EU police officers. Kosovo’s independence, proclaimed in 2008, remains disputed by Serbia. The country is also burdened by corruption and poverty, with the official unemployment rate at 50 percent.