Erdogan urges Serbian and Kosovo leaders to dialogue

Erdogan urges Serbian and Kosovo leaders to dialogue
Erdogan urges Serbian and Kosovo leaders to dialogue

Turkey urged Serbia and Kosovo to de-escalate tensions and resolve issues through dialogue in the recent escalation between the two countries.

In a statement made by the Directorate of Communications, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke by phone with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti on May 31. Both leaders congratulated Erdogan on his re-election and read the statement.

During the meeting, where bilateral relations and regional issues were also discussed, President Erdoğan stated that the only way to establish a lasting peace regarding the developments in the north of Kosovo is to make progress in the dialogue process and stability in the region.

President Erdoğan also noted that Turkey is ready to make the necessary contribution to the dialogue process.

Ankara has been closely monitoring events in northern Kosovo, where tensions have escalated between Kosovo officials and local Serbs. In a statement through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he urged all parties to refrain from violence and not take actions that could escalate tensions.

The conflict arose after ethnic Albanian officials elected last week in a vote that Serbs overwhelmingly boycotted entered city halls to take office. When the Serbs tried to block them, Kosovo police used tear gas to disperse them in Zvecan, leading to clashes with NATO-led troops that injured 30 international soldiers.

Ethnic Serbs insisted that both ethnic Albanian mayors and Kosovo police leave northern Kosovo.

On May 31, NATO-led peacekeepers stepped up security around a town hall in northern Kosovo where hundreds of ethnic Serbs were regrouping in clashes that left more than 80 injured earlier this week.

NATO has decided to deploy hundreds of reinforcements to strengthen Kosovo's international peacekeeping mission (KFOR), following the violence that took place in the town of Zvecan on Monday. Hundreds of ethnic Serbs gathered in front of Zvecan town hall for the third time in a row Wednesday, raising a huge Serbian flag that stretched 200 meters (660 feet) from the town hall to the city centre.

An AFP reporter said KFOR soldiers surrounded the town hall, also guarding the building with a metal fence and barbed wire.

Many Serbs are demanding the withdrawal of the Kosovo special police forces, as well as ethnic Albanian mayors whom they do not see as their real representatives.