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Kosovo President Blames Intimidation for Serb Police Officers’ Resignations

Kosovo’s President, Vjosa Osmani, accused Serbia of intimidating three ethnic Serb police officers who resigned on Thursday, only 35 days after taking their oath of office.

“The resignation of police officers of the Serb community is a direct result of ongoing threats and intimidation from Serbia – evidence that its policies continue to mirror [former Serbian leader Slobodan] Milosevic tactics,” Osmani said, referring to the resignation of three Kosovo Police officers from the Serb community on Thursday.

“We will continue to ensure inclusivity across all institutions and a safer Kosovo for all,” she added.

Kosovo Police did not comment on the resignations. “The Police does not comment on resignations of our colleagues,” Veton Elshani, Deputy Commander of Kosovo Police for the north, told BIRN.

None of three resigned police officers, nor any Kosovo Serb political representative, has spoken yet about the move.

The resignations come only a month after dozens of Serb police officers took their oath as part of 417 new cadets inaugurated in a ceremony in Pristina.

Four Serb-majority northern Kosovo municipalities  – Mitrovica North, Zvecan, Leposavic and Zubin Potok – have remained without local police since November 2022, when Belgrade-backed Srpska Lista MPs, one minister, four mayors, judges, prosecutors and more than 500 police members from the Serbian community collectively resigned. None of those who resigned has returned to their posts.

The move attempted to pressure the government to withdraw plans to impose Kosovo-issued licence plates on drivers in the north who still use plates issued by Serbia.

Days after the officers’ resignations, the EU rule-of-law mission in Kosovo, EULEX, announced it was boosting its police presence in the north with the deployment of gendarmes from its Reserve Formed Police Unit, RFPU.

Jorn Rohde, German ambassador in Kosovo, shared concerns about intimidarion. “A multi-ethnic country requires a multi-ethnic police,” he said. “All Kosovo Police members – no matter which ethnic group they belong to – need to be able to perform their duties free from intimidation,” Rohde tweeted on Thursday.

The head of EULEX, Giovanni Pietro Barbano, noted “worrisome developments” with the recent resignations. “Police composition should reflect and represent the society they serve and protect,” he said.

“Non-majority members of Kosovo Police can contribute to the safety of their own communities through community-oriented policing,” he added.

Source : Balkan Insight