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Serbian leader accuses foreign intelligence of stirring up protests in Belgrade

The Serbian leader linked the protests and clashes with the police with the upcoming talks chaired by the EU on the issue of unrecognized Kosovo

BELGRADE, July 8. /TASS/. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has accused foreign intelligence services of inciting protest rallies that spilled into the streets of Belgrade late on Tuesday near the national parliament, he said Wednesday in a special address to the nation.

"We witnessed an aggressive political protest that was illegal, was not agreed with the police and was held in defiance of legislation. Members of right-wing radical affiliation, pro-Fascist organization extremists attacked the National Assembly (parliament - TASS), were violently attacking Serbian police officers for a few hours, insulted them, threw stones at them and beat them. The police only retaliated after they stormed into the parliament hall, the protestors used knives, stones and Molotov cocktails. The protest was well organized, there were influence of foreign factors and foreign services, our police will carefully look into it," Vucic noted.

The Serbian leader linked the protests and clashes with the police with the upcoming talks chaired by the EU on the issue of unrecognized Kosovo. "The Serbian delegation is heading to the talks on Kosovo under a lot of pressure, we will not be there as strong as we could have been," he lamented.

At the same time, the president underlined that no one can scare Serbia into submission. "We will not allow anyone to destroy Serbia’s future and everything that has been built and created here," he emphasized.

On Tuesday, Vucic announced a curfew between Friday evening and Monday morning in the Serbian capital due to the worsening coronavirus epidemic. Moreover, a state of emergency was imposed in Belgrade, the hardest hit region in the country. On Wednesday morning, all public gatherings of over five people are banned. Currently, Serbia has 16,719 coronavirus cases, while fatalities caused by the virus jumped to 330.

Vucic will meet with French leader Emmanuel Macron in Paris on July 9 to discuss the problem of unrecognized Kosovo. The meeting between the two presidents will take place ahead of an online summit attended by the leaders of Germany, France, the European Union, Serbia and Kosovo, scheduled for July 10. On July 12, Vucic and Prime Minister of unrecognized Kosovo Avdullah Hoti will hold a meeting as part of high-level dialogue mediated by the EU for the first time since November 2018.