March 4. 2024. 6:45

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Kurti: Problem in north Kosovo is rule of law, criminal structures


Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that the main problem facing the north of Kosovo is not the resignation of Serbs from institutions meaning new elections need to be held, but rather illegality and criminal structures.

Over the weekend, Kosovo Police raided three drug cultivation labs in the Serb-majority municipality of North Mitrovica and made several arrests. In January 2022, police confiscated hundreds of illegal Bitcoin mining machines that were making use of an agreement for the Serb municipalities to receive free energy, and in May 2022, police seized more than 10,000 cannabis plants.

“The main problem in the north is not the failure to hold elections, but the rule of law, constitutionality, illegal structures transformed into criminal gangs financially and politically supported by Belgrade,” Kurti said.

The prime minister has long said that problems in the north of the country that have often spilt over into road blockades, assaults on authorities, and other incidents, are caused by criminal gangs that are backed by Belgrade. Serbia and its government deny such claims and counter that Pristina is trying to drive out Serbs from the north.

On the topic of elections, Kurti said “we also have to hold elections but they must be free and fair, more today than ever. Serbs are at risk from Belgrade’s structures, that’s why I share the concern with you that elections were not held.”

Elections were set to be held on 18 December in the Serb-majority municipalities of Zvecan, Leopsavic, Zubin Potok and North Mitrovica after representatives resigned en masse in protest over Pristina’s plans to ban Yugoslav-era license plates. Serbs set up blockades throughout the region which led to the closure of several border crossings.

The situation deteriorated further in December as the elections were planned and then postponed and a Serb policeman was arrested over allegations he attacked central electoral commission premises. He was then put under house arrest, significantly reducing tensions but it was another month before the road blockades were removed.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)