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Serbia’s president set to discuss Kosovo with Putin, ask for help

The provocation has violated a number of international agreements, Vucic said in a special address to the nation
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic Alexei Druzhinin/TASS
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic
© Alexei Druzhinin/TASS

BELGRADE, September 29. /TASS/. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is planning to focus on Kosovo and Metohija at his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to ask him for support, Vucic told reporters on Saturday.

"Today, we have notified the ambassador of the Russian Federation along with the US ambassador and others of the situation. In two days, I will be meeting with President Putin. We will be speaking about issues of concern for Serbia, therefore the situation in Kosovo and Metohija will definitely be the focus [of the talks]," Vucic said. "We will inform Putin of latest developments and will ask for his support at all international forums. We will ask him for advice, no doubt."

Asked by reporters if he, like Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, would request Russia for military assistance, Vucic vowed he would do his utmost to preserve peace in the region.

"I would prefer Serbia - with all our respect and love for Syria and its people - to be a peaceful country, a country with developed economy, a country of the future and I will do my best to preserve peace," he noted.

The Serbian media reported earlier that Putin and Vucic would hold talks in Moscow on October 2.

Earlier on Saturday, several dozen troops of Kosovo’s Special Forces were deployed to the northern ethnic Serb area, in spite of the fact it is banned under international treaties. The special forces took positions around Gazivoda Lake and seized the local hydroelectric power plant. Moreover, they intruded into an environment center in the village of Zubin Potok. In response, Serbia’s president ordered the country’s Armed Forces and riot police to go on the highest combat alert and lodged a protest with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg over the incident.

 The provocation has violated a number of international agreements, Vucic said in a special address to the nation.

"They entered the north of Kosovo without permission and in breach of Brussels agreements. They tried to demonstrate that those agreements are non-binding for them and their Western allies support them. They violated first provision of the ninth chapter of the Brussels agreement, because Serbs were not notified; the provision on the freedom of movement was also violated, as well as UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and a military-technical agreement," he said.

"We will try to maintain peace by nearly all means possible. However, Serbia will find an opportunity to defend its people at any moment. I request Kosovo Albanians not to come there with guns, not to attack Serbian people and ask them not to test Serbian people’s patience. Let me remind all international stakeholders: the international right is on Serbia’s side, just take a good look at UN Security Council Resolution 1244, at the Brussels agreements," Vucic added.

The president stressed that his country is willing to establish long-term peace with the Albanians, but it cannot be based on eviction of Serbs.

According to Vucic, it was the third escalation of tensions in Kosovo and Metohija since March 26, when the director of the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Juric, was detained and beaten up by Albanian special forces in Kosovska Mitrovica. In his speech, the president also mentioned several dozens of attacks and provocations against the Serbian population of Kosovo that took place recently.

According to the president’s estimates, about 110-130 people took part in Pristina’s operation, including special forces who took control of territories around Lake Gazivode and detained for people. Vucic said at least 12 snipers and 90 armed police officers took part in the operation, and about the same number of personnel was on standby.

An official with the European Union’s external action service told reporters in Brussels that the EU maintains contact with all sides and urged them to show restraint.

Commenting on European Union’s reaction, the Serbian president urged Brussels to refrain from hypocrisy on the issue.

"What do you mean by 'restraint'? Did the Serbs attacked themselves?" the president asked rhetorically. "I would ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to at least abstain from hypocritical comments."

The Serbian leader called on the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metohija to stay calm and show restraint.

Meanwhile, Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said the country’s armed forces were put on high combat alert and were ready to respond to any developments in Kosovo.

"The supreme commander’s order is in force, and, as long as it remains so, the Serbian armed forces follow the situation and will be ready to respond to any developments," the Serbian Defense Ministry quoted its head as saying.

During his September 9 speech in Kosovska Mitrovica, the Serbian president said that Belgrade will act without hesitation to defend the Serbian population of Kosovo and Metohija.