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At least 17 policemen injured in protest riots downtown Pristina

June 27, 2013, 23:51 UTC+3

Activists of radical ethnic Albanian Self-Determination movement blocked the parliament’s building in protest

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BELGRADE, June 27 (Itar-Tass) - At least 17 policemen were injured in Pristina, the capital of self-proclaimed Kosovo republic, on Thursday in clashes with the activists of radical ethnic Albanian Self-Determination movement. The latter blocked the parliament’s building in protest over ratification of the Brussels’ agreement on normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

The document was ratified by 84 votes against 3 with one abstention.

Police used tear gas and used rubber batons to disperse the protesters and drive them back to the city center. About 70 demonstrators were arrested, the Interior Ministry of the self-proclaimed republic reports.

On April 19, the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci, initialed a plan for agreement to normalize bilateral relations. The Serbian parliament ratified the document several days later.

Members of the ‘Self-Determination’ group are against granting restricted autonomy to the Kosovo Serbs who densely reside in the north of Kosovo.

Normalization of relations with Pristina was one o the main preconditions for opening negotiation on Serbia’s EU membership. Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic says that Serbia is waiting for an unconditional EU decision on Serbia’s entry, which, if that happens, will be historical event for Belgrade.

"The most important thing for us is to set the date for the start of negotiations for association and integration with the European Union without any preconditions,” Dacic emphasized.

The prime minister noted that Belgrade would continue implementing a plan to normalize relations with Pristina.

"I would not like negotiations with Brussels to drag for decades,” Dacic said.

On June 25, the foreign ministers of the European Union reached a preliminary agreement on starting the EU entry talks with Serbia not later than January 2014. The European Union took account of the Serbian authorities’ efforts to normalize relations with Kosovo. The decision will take effect if the EU leaders confirm it at a summit on June 27-28.

The Serbian authorities are pinning high hopes for setting a concrete date for the talks. If the European Union gives a blurred answer, the Serbian government will lose people’s support and will have to call early elections.



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