Serbs Attack UN Police– Russia Warns It May Use Force

The Serbs continued their protests and attacks today at the border with Kosovo.
Russia warns they may use force.

A man looks at a burning UN vehicle after Kosovo Serb protesters burned down Serbia-Kosovo border crossing Jarinje February 19, 2008. Serbs opposed to Kosovo’s newly declared independence on Tuesday burned down a border crossing manned by Kosovo and UN police. (REUTERS/Marko Djurica)

Russia Today has video of the tense situation in the divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo:

Serbian protesters attacked UN police guarding a bridge.
The AP reported:

Violent protests rocked Serb-dominated northern Kosovo on Friday, as mobs chanting “Kosovo is ours!” hurled stones, bottles and firecrackers at U.N. police guarding a bridge that divides Serbs from ethnic Albanians.

The scenes evoked memories of the carnage unleashed by former Serb autocrat Slobodan Milosevic the last time Kosovo tried to break away from Serbia, which considers the territory its ancestral homeland.

There were disturbing signs the riots in Belgrade, Serbia, and in Mitrovica have the blessing of nationalists in the Serbian government. The government hopes somehow to undo the loss of the beloved province, the site of an epic battle between Serbs and Turks in 1389.

Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica’s authorities have repeatedly vowed to reclaim the land, despite U.S. and other Western recognition of Kosovo’s statehood. Some hard-line government ministers have praised the violent protests as “legitimate” — and in line with government policies of retaining control over Serb-populated areas.

In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was time for Serbs to accept that Kosovo is no longer theirs. She also suggested it was time to drop centuries of grievance and sentimentality in the Balkans…

In his first post-independence interview, Kosovo’s prime minister told The Associated Press that the violence is reminiscent of the Milosevic era.

“The pictures of yesterday in Belgrade were pictures of Milosevic’s time,” said Hasim Thaci, a former guerrilla leader of the disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, said at his office in Pristina, the capital. “What we saw were terrible things.”


A Kosovo Serb protester destroys a UN police vehicle at the Serbia-Kosovo border crossing Jarinje February 19, 2008. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Russian President Putin warned the West that the decision to recognize Kosovo’s independence would come back and bite them.
–Russia warned that they could use force if the situation escalates.

Caroline Glick also warns about this troubling declaration by Kosovo and the impact it may have on multi-ethnic states.

Up Next… The Basques.

UPDATE: Jan sent this interesting article from The New York Times from 1987 describing the ethnic tensions in then Yugoslavia.
Here is a fascinating prediction from the article:

The goal of the radical nationalists among them, one said in an interview, is an “ethnic Albania that includes western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, part of southern Serbia, Kosovo and Albania itself.” That includes large chunks of the republics that make up the southern half of Yugoslavia…

As Slavs flee the protracted violence, Kosovo is becoming what ethnic Albanian nationalists have been demanding for years, and especially strongly since the bloody rioting by ethnic Albanians in Pristina in 1981 – an “ethnically pure” Albanian region, a “Republic of Kosovo” in all but name.

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