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France, Germany urge new elections in Kosovo following flare-up in ethnic tensions

by Ryan Lee
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"Ethnic tensions in Kosovo"

France, Germany Call for New Elections in Kosovo amid Ethnic Tensions

Bulboaca, Moldova (BBN) – In response to the recent surge in ethnic tensions and violent protests in Kosovo, France and Germany have urged Kosovo and Serbia to hold new municipal elections in northern Kosovo. The leaders of the two European nations, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, made the call during a summit in Moldova. They questioned the democratic legitimacy of the previous elections held in April and proposed fresh mayoral elections in four municipalities. Macron emphasized the need for legitimacy, as four mayors were elected with less than 5% of the voter turnout.

Calls for New Elections

During the European Political Community summit in Bulboaca, Macron emphasized the importance of organizing new elections in the four municipalities in question. He and Scholz had discussions with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, urging them to consider the recommendations and respond the following week. Scholz emphasized that all parties involved would need to show courage and responsibility to ensure the success of deescalation efforts.

Boycotted Elections and Renewed Conflict

The local elections in question were boycotted by the Serb residents, resulting in ethnic Albanian mayors being elected in Serb-majority towns. The outcome led to protests and clashes between ethnic Serb demonstrators and NATO-led peacekeepers. Over 30 international soldiers and more than 50 protesters were injured during the clashes. The situation has raised concerns about the potential re-ignition of conflict in the troubled region.

Stances of the Leaders

Scholz expressed optimism about reaching a permanent solution to the longstanding conflict between Serbia and Kosovo, stating that implementation is the next step. However, Kosovo President Osmani criticized Serbian President Vucic, accusing him of dishonesty during the Moldova meetings. She referred to the protesters as “criminal gangs” and called for Serbia to stop supporting them. Vucic, on the other hand, stated that Kosovo police forces should leave the majority-populated Kosovo Serb regions along with the newly elected mayors.

International Response and Concerns

NATO announced plans to deploy an additional 700 troops to northern Kosovo to help stabilize the situation and prevent further clashes. The recent violence in the region has revived fears of a reemergence of the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo, which resulted in thousands of casualties and led to a long-term NATO peacekeeping mission. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, attending an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo, called on Kosovo and Serbia to deescalate tensions and make genuine efforts towards normalization agreements. He emphasized the importance of responsible action from both sides.

Frank Jordans contributed from Berlin.

What are the leaders of France and Germany urging in Kosovo?

The leaders of France and Germany are urging Kosovo and Serbia to hold new municipal elections in northern Kosovo in order to address the recent flare-up of ethnic tensions and violent protests in the region. They question the democratic legitimacy of the previous elections and propose fresh mayoral elections in four municipalities.

Why are the previous elections in northern Kosovo being questioned?

The previous elections in northern Kosovo are being questioned because they were overwhelmingly boycotted by Serb residents. As a result, ethnic Albanian mayors were elected in Serb-majority towns, leading to protests and clashes. The leaders of France and Germany emphasize the need for democratic legitimacy and fairness in the electoral process.

What is the significance of holding new elections in these four municipalities?

Holding new elections in the four municipalities is seen as a crucial step to address the current tensions and promote stability in the region. The leaders of France and Germany believe that fresh elections, with broader participation and greater legitimacy, can help alleviate the tensions, bridge divides, and promote inclusive representation for all communities.

What is the international response to the situation in Kosovo?

The international community has expressed concerns about the recent violence and the potential for renewed conflict in Kosovo. NATO has announced plans to deploy additional troops to help stabilize the situation. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on both Kosovo and Serbia to deescalate tensions and make genuine efforts towards normalization agreements.

What is the history of the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo?

The conflict between Serbia and Kosovo has a longstanding history. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move that Serbia does not recognize. This has been a source of ongoing tensions between the two nations. The conflict in the late 1990s resulted in thousands of casualties and led to a long-term NATO peacekeeping mission in the region. Efforts towards finding a permanent solution and normalizing relations have been ongoing.

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