BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Kosovo remains “highly volatile” even though the security situation has calmed since a major outburst of violence in May, the commander of NATO-led troops in the Balkan territory said on Wednesday.
More than 90 NATO peacekeeping soldiers were injured in the clashes with Serb protesters in northern Kosovo, according to NATO. Some 50 protesters were also injured.
The clashes erupted after ethnic Albanian mayors took office in the north following local elections in which turnout was just 3.5% due to a boycott by Serbs.
The population of Kosovo is mainly ethnic Albanian but Serbs form a majority in the north.
Italian Major General Angelo Michele Ristuccia, the commander of NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR), said tension between the two sides remained high due to political differences.
“The situation is calm after the events of the 29th of May. But, in a way, the situation is still highly volatile. We perceive the tension – the tension due to … the multitude of unsolved issues,” he told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
“If we have to deliver a diagnosis of what is happening, I would say that the most concerning sickness is mistrust – mistrust between parties,” he added.
“It means there is not a military solution. The only solution is a political solution.”
(Reporting by Andrew Gray)