Why was there unrest in the North of Kosovo and how does North Mitrovica differ from other municipalities?

With police brutality in the form of truncheons and spraying of tear gas in the eyes, the newly elected mayors of three municipalities in the northern part of Kosovo entered the buildings where they are supposed to establish their offices.

Zubin Potok, Leposavić, Zvečan were the scene of unrest on Friday. As officially confirmed by the Kosovo Police – they helped the mayors elected in the local elections on April 23 to enter the municipal buildings.

Only a day before, there was nothing to indicate this police action. Especially since the international community also warned that the newly elected mayors should have a technical role, but not a political one, and that they should refrain from violent actions.

Prishtina ignored these recommendations, so now the Kosovo flags are flying on the municipal buildings in these three municipalities, while the Serbian flags, which were on these buildings, have been taken down. In front of them are still KP special forces.

Today is scheduled for the National Security Session of Serbia, where the current situation in Kosovo and Metohija will be discussed.

Where did the Albanian mayors in majority Serbian municipalities come from?

These three, plus the third municipality, Severna Mitrovica, are mostly populated by Serbs.

In the aforementioned local elections, the candidates of the Albanian parties – the Democratic Party of Kosovo and “Self-Determination” won. The president of “Self-determination” is Aljbin Kurti.

DPK won in two municipalities – Iljir Peci is the new mayor of Zvečani, and Ljuljzim Hetemi – Leposavica.

Self-determination will be led by North Mitrovica, where the winner of the election is Erden Atić, and Zubin Potok, whose first person is Izmir Zećiri from now on.

This distribution of roles came about due to the boycott of the Serbian community, and these mayors won power with around a hundred votes, and slightly more than five, which was won by Atić in the most populous municipality in the north of Kosovo.

The Serbs left the institutions as early as November 5 last year, when two, so far unfulfilled, demands were made – the withdrawal of special units of the Kosovo Police and the formation of the Union of Serbian Municipalities, which represents Pristina’s obligation from the Brussels Agreement, signed in 2013.

It was the Kosovo special forces that took part in the riots on Friday.

Why were special forces “necessary”?

The day before, the new mayors took their oaths. This did not happen in the buildings of the local assemblies, nor in the buildings of the municipalities, but in public facilities located in majority Albanian villages that are part of these three municipalities.

Thus, the mayor of Zvečan took his oath at the elementary school “Isa Boljetini”, in the predominantly Albanian village of Boljetin.

Even before the election results, it was clear that the new mayors would be Albanians, who would have difficulties in forming their own cabinets.

The reason: the buildings intended for the mayor’s office are at the same time part of the Kosovo and Serbian systems.

Since the integration into the Kosovo system, which, like the formation of the ZSO, is a product of the Brussels Agreement, the rooms provided for the mayors in the north of Kosovo are located in the buildings that also house the temporary organs of the Republic of Serbia.

Practically, both Kosovo and Serbian municipalities are located there.

The buildings into which the Albanian candidates entered by force are exactly such buildings.

Citizens employed in temporary bodies worked in those premises, and while local Serbs say that those buildings have always been the property of Serbia, that is, that they date even before the integration into the Kosovo system, Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti claims that they are the property of Kosovo.

That is why it was known that the new mayors would not enter them so easily, that is, that there would be resistance from the local Serbs.

Provisional bodies are actually municipalities operating in the system of the Republic of Serbia. They exist, despite integration, on the territory of the entire Kosovo and Metohija. The presidents of temporary bodies are appointed directly by the Government of Serbia, i.e. the Prime Minister, and they mainly serve for the financial support of the local Serbian population.

Prishtina mostly ignored the temporary authorities, but with a clear thesis that they are illegal, including the narrative about “parallel criminal structures in the North of Kosovo”.

Why exactly May 26?

What made Friday, May 26, the date of the action possible was that the majority of the local Serbian population, including those employed in the temporary authorities, were at the meeting of the Serbian Progressive Party “Serbia Nade”, and there were fewer citizens in these municipalities who would opposed the invasion.

The top of the Serbian List, which usually directs such actions, was also in Belgrade.

The opposition politician from North Mitrovica, Aleksandar Arsenijević, the president of the Civic Initiative “Serbian Survival”, warned against this scenario. During the events in Zvečan, according to his own testimony, he experienced police brutality, they hit him in the head with butts, and before that tear gas was sprayed into his eyes.

So how did everything go peacefully in North Mitrovica?

In North Mitrovica, the aforementioned Erden Atić took the oath last week at a special session of the North Mitrovica Municipal Assembly. He started with the formation of the cabinet without any problems, a day later.

The difference between North Mitrovica and the other three municipalities is that the premises of the Kosovo system in this municipality are separated from the premises of the Serbian system.

The Kosovo municipality, in which Atić formed his cabinet, is located in the multi-ethnic settlement of Bošnjačka Mahala, and there were no employees there after the aforementioned November 5.

The temporary authority in this municipality continues to operate without interruption.

What next?

It is not clear how Pristina will react to the condemnations of the international community. The Serbian List set a deadline of June 1 for the end of the “terror of the Pristina authorities against the Serbs”, announcing radicalization, or more precisely, “providing resistance by all means”.

The new mayors will obviously start forming the cabinet in the premises they entered on Friday. The next thing that awaits is the reaction of the local Serbs, who arrived today from Belgrade.

If by that date there is no solution, at least a temporary one, that is, if the pressures of the international community on Kurti’s government, which until now very rigidly implemented its policy of extending sovereignty to the north of Kosovo, “do not work”, an escalation of tensions is to be expected.

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