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Kosovo: Europe's grey area used by criminals, extremists — ambassador

The Russian ambassador to the UN notes the situation in Kosovo is continually unstable and marked by unending attacks on the Serb population

UNITED NATIONS, August 26. /TASS/. Kosovo is a grey area in the heart of Europe and an abode for criminals and radical extremists, the Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday as he took the floor at a session of the UN Security Council, which discussed the Kosovo peace settlement.

"The feebleness of law enforcement and the security structure in Kosovo has transformed the region into a grey area in the heart of Europe, which Islamic radicals, as well as members of criminal networks use as an abode and a transit point," he said.

"This facilitates the use of the territory by extremist groups for the recruitment and training of militants," Churkin explained.

"Kosovo ranks among Europe's top three for the number of IS combatants per capita of the local population, and that's why should any measures be taken to check the situation, they would still be clearly insufficient," he stressed.

He voiced concern about current discussions in Kosovo for "a so-called agreement on demarcation of the border with Montenegro."

"Nationalistic calls for reunifying Albanian lands, including the ones located in Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, and Montenegro and appeals to create a 'Greater Albania' are getting increasingly louder," Churkin said.

"Russia calls for keeping this rhetoric in check, as it is prone to exacerbating inter-ethnic contradictions not only in Kosovo, but also in the region at large," he said.

Churkin described the situation in Kosovo as continually unstable and marked by unending attacks on the Serb population, as well as desecrations of religious shrines and historical heritage sites. In addition, he highlighted attempts by Kosovo’s authorities to deprive the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo), with the local government usurping those powers. Such actions cannot help but cause concern, especially in the context of the heinous crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army during the armed conflict in the 1990's, he said.