Thousands protest in Belgrade against Western-backed Serbia-Kosovo deal

BELGRADE, March 17 (Reuters) – Several thousand people have gathered in Belgrade to protest against a Western-backed deal to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which they see as recognition of independence of Kosovo.

The Serbian constitution considers Kosovo an integral part of its territory, even though it declared independence in 2008 with the support of the United States and the European Union. Bilateral relations must be repaired for Serbia and Kosovo to achieve their strategic goal of EU membership.

The demonstrators waved Serbian flags and banners reading “Kosovo is not for sale”, “Serbia, not the European Union” and “No to surrender”.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is due to meet Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and EU officials on Saturday in Ohrid, North Macedonia, to discuss the implementation of the agreement on normalizing relations reached by the two sides last month.

“I think the deal implies that we recognize Kosovo, which is not acceptable,” Bogdan, a 26-year-old student protester who declined to give his last name, said in an interview.

The demonstrators in front of the Saint Sava church in Belgrade moved towards the building of the presidency.

“This is just the start of the protest,” said Milos Jovanovic, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, who was one of the organizers of the protest.

“It (the agreement) is definitely recognition (of Kosovo), whether you say so explicitly or it is implied indirectly, it is still recognition and that is not acceptable.”

In 1999, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombed Serbia in response to the expulsion of the majority of Albanians by Serbian forces in Kosovo.

Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Richard Chang

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Comment