Serbian and Albanian leaders differ sharply over the barricades being erected by Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohija. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić declared his government’s support for the protesters and their peaceful demonstration. The Serbian President noted that his government is engaging in discussions with Western powers to de-escalate the conflict, but he noted, in an interview with Pink TV, that “We aren’t in talks with impartial people. They are the people who fail to comply with [United Nations Security Council] Resolution 1244, who bombed this country, destroying it. However, we talk to them because they have their forces in Kosovo and Metohija.”
Vučić also thanked Russia for its political support during the current crisis. Dmitry Peskov, a Spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, declared that Moscow is keeping a close eye on the situation in Kosovo and supports Serbia’s actions.
In reaction to Vučić, Socialist Albanian Foreign Minister Olta Xhaçka declared on Twitter: “Sorry we disagree! Barricades are not a peaceful protest tool! If this would be the case then many basic notions of our civilization about peaceful coexistence among people, communities, parties, nations would have to be reviewed. With dramatic consequences. Not a good idea. At all.” Xhaçka called on the Serbian government to “stop supporting by unjustifyable justifications the erection of barricades in the north of Kosova” and, in a provocative statement, declared that Serbia “should finally understand that the so called “Kosova&Metohija”is gone. Forever!”
In a new development, reported by the Blic News Agency, Serbian police officer Dejan Pantić, whose arrest at the administrative crossing in Jarinje on December 10 sparked the current protest is set to be released from Albanian custody and will be allowed to defend himself from house arrest. The release of Pantić has been the primary demand of the Serbs in northern Kosovo. It remains to be seen if this will help to de-escalate the crisis.