Serbs protesters attack UN police

Serbs protesters attack UN police

( AP )- Serbs protesting Kosovo's independence for a fifth straight day Friday attacked U.N. police guarding a key bridge in northern Kosovo with stones, glass bottles and firecrackers.

The U.S. ambassador to Serbia, meanwhile, demanded that the government guarantee the safety of foreign diplomatic missions and their personnel in the capital after an attack Thursday on the U.S. compound.

Serb protesters set fire to the embassy, angered by U.S. recognition of Kosovo's declaration of independence over the weekend.

"We are demanding from the Serbian government that they condemn the violence that took place yesterday and guarantee that it will not be repeated," Ambassador Cameron Munter said in an interview.

The State Department ordered nonessential diplomats and the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade to leave Serbia.

Serbian President Boris Tadic called an emergency meeting of the national security council and said the rioting that engulfed the capital must "never happen again."

"I most sharply condemn the violence, looting and arson," Tadic said in a statement. "There is no excuse for the violence. Nobody can justify what happened yesterday."

Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders declared independence from Serbia on Sunday. The province, which is 90 percent ethnic Albanian, has not been under Serbia's control since 1999, when NATO launched airstrikes to halt a Serbian crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists. A U.N. mission has governed Kosovo since.

In Serb-dominated northern Kosovo, demonstrators waved Serbian flags and chanted "Kosovo is ours!" Police tried to keep protesters off the Kosovska Mitrovica bridge over the Ibar River. The bridge, which divides Kosovo Serbs from ethnic Albanians, has long been a flashpoint of tensions in Kosovo's restive north.

"Kosovo is Serbia and we will never surrender despite blackmail by the European Union," Dragan Deletic, a Serbian government official, told the crowd which responded by chanting "Kosovo is Serbia."

Several EU countries, including Britain, Germany, France and Italy, have recognized Kosovo.

Tensions among demonstrators was higher than usual Friday because French NATO peacekeepers on Kosovo's border refused to allow the passage of several busloads of Serbs who wanted to join the Kosovo Serb rally Friday.

There were fears that Serbian soccer hooligans, the same ones who attacked the U.S. and other embassies in Belgrade on Thursday, were among those on the buses. Some of the hooligans apparently managed to evade the blockade, leading the clashes at the bridge.

On Thursday, nearly 200,000 demonstrated in downtown Belgrade against Kosovo independence. Rioters stormed the U.S. Embassy and set fire to offices and police guardhouses on the sidewalk in front of the building. Firefighters found a charred body inside the U.S. embassy.

Serbian police said more than 150 people were injured in the unrest. Nearly 200 people were arrested and 90 shops ransacked.

The White House strongly criticized the Serbian government, saying the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade "was attacked by thugs" and Serb police did not do enough to stop it. In a conference call with reporters from Air Force One, presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said the United States had expressed its "concern and displeasure" to the Serbian government.

The riots were the first major outburst of anti-Western sentiment in Serbia since former leader Slobodan Milosevic was ousted in 2000 and replaced by a reformist government.

The tensions have exposed a deep rift within the country's shaky coalition government, raising fears that nationalist anger over Kosovo was strengthening the hard-liners who want to move Serbia away from the European Union and closer to its traditional ally Russia.

Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said Friday the move to recognize Kosovo was a "strategic mistake" and suggested that Moscow might have to use "brute military force" if the alliance expands its current peacekeeping operation in the territory.

Third-ranking U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns called on Russia to repudiate the suggestion.

"We strongly advise Russia to be more responsible in its public comments toward Kosovo," Burns said, responding to questions in an online written discussion. " Russia is isolated this week - very few countries are supporting its position."

The EU warned Serbia that the attacks risked harming efforts to bring the Balkan nation closer to the EU.

"These acts of violence lead nowhere and they cannot help anybody," said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. He told reporters that negotiations on an agreement designed to prepare Serbia for eventual EU membership would have to wait until things "calm down."

In Kosovo, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said Friday the violence was reminiscent of Milosevic's bloody crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo.

"What we saw were terrible things," Thaci told The Associated Press in his first interview since Kosovo declared independence on Sunday. "It was a reaction against a democratic world."

Pro-Western politicians in Serbia accused hard-line nationalists in the government of Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica of inciting the violence.

Tadic's and Kostunica's parties are united in a coalition government that has ruled Serbia since mid-2007.

But the two differ sharply on how to handle Kosovo's independence, with Tadic saying Belgrade must press on with efforts to join the EU regardless of Kosovo, and Kostunica seeking to drop the bid because most EU countries plan to recognize the province's independence.

Kostunica appealed for an end to the violence.

"This directly damages our ... national interests. All those who support the fake state of Kosovo are rejoicing at the sight of violence in Belgrade," he said. But he made no mention of the damaged embassies.

Police said that in addition to the U.S. and Croatian embassies, the missions of Turkey, Bosnia, Belgium and Canada also were targeted.

Also Friday, the U.S. ambassador to neighboring Bosnia said he had closed the consulate in the northwestern city of Banja Luka a day after protesters burned the U.S. flag and tried to storm the consulate building.

Bosnia consists of two ministates, one run by Bosnian Serbs, the other by Bosniaks and Croats. The Bosnian Serb Parliament has condemned Kosovo's move and said it will consider a referendum to secede from Bosnia if more countries recognize Pristina's government.

Khazar Consortium opens again tender for service maintenance in Turkmenistan
Khazar Consortium opens again tender for service maintenance in Turkmenistan
Uzbek-Korean JSC announces tender for transport services
Uzbek-Korean JSC announces tender for transport services
CNPC in Turkmenistan opens tender for provision of gas leakage detection services
CNPC in Turkmenistan opens tender for provision of gas leakage detection services
Loading Bars
Global COVID-19 deaths surpass 2.5 mln - Johns Hopkins University
Georgia approves draft agreement with largest oil company in Eastern Europe
Kazakhstan decreases exports to Belarus year-on-year
UAE resumes issuing travel visa for Iranians
Head of parliamentary committee talks agricultural activity in liberated Azerbaijani lands
AZAL to start to make special flights from Baku to Kyiv
OSCE PA Vice-President names Azerbaijan's challenges in post-Karabakh conflict period
Khojaly genocide - criminal act committed against mankind, against humanity, MP says
Azerbaijani FM, Israeli ambassador discuss prospects for development of bilateral co-op (PHOTO)
Russian journalists horrified by Azerbaijani Aghdam city's destruction
Netherlands Trading House may open in Azerbaijan
Supplies of 'Iskander' missiles to Armenia must be stopped – Russian expert
Baku hosts meeting with Pakistani military delegation
Pakistani FWO talks interest to co-op with Azerbaijan in infrastructure projects
Azerbaijani president receives Signify representatives via video format (PHOTO)
OSCE MG should support post-conflict rehabilitation of Azerbaijani territories - OSCE PA VP
Chairperson-in-Office of OSCE looks to visit Azerbaijan
Italy's share in Azerbaijani oil export in 2020 disclosed
Azerbaijani satellites to provide HD broadcasting to West Africa region
Hungary-Azerbaijan cooperation on ACG, Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline can expand to new areas
Khazar Consortium opens again tender for service maintenance in Turkmenistan
Conversations ongoing on potential projects between Turkmenistan, UK
Uzbekistan’s fiscal policy to continue supporting economic recovery - Fitch Ratings
Payment card turnover in Azerbaijan continues to grow
Azerbaijan’s crude oil export to China up
Hungary eyes including Azerbaijani gas in country’s future energy mix
Azerbaijani market of great interest to Russian Perm region's business circles
Azerbaijan reports 142 more COVID-19 recoveries
Azerbaijan discloses volume of foreign trade operations with Russia in Jan. 2021
Azerbaijan to use new 'cloud' technologies in audit during 2021 - Chamber of Auditors
Volume of loans issued by Georgian commercial banks down
Uzbek-Korean JSC announces tender for transport services
OSCE ready to deploy mediation missions for sustained peace in Azerbaijani liberated territories - president
CNPC in Turkmenistan opens tender for provision of gas leakage detection services
Fitch projects share of state-owned banks in Uzbekistan to reduce
"Sign of Khojaly" film demonstrated within "Justice for Khojaly" campaign (VIDEO)
OIC SecGen pays tribute to those who lost their lives in Khojaly genocide
Reconstruction of Azerbaijan’s liberated lands to deepen economic co-op with Hungary
Moderna sees $18.4 billion in sales from COVID-19 vaccine in 2021
Swiss agriculture technologies to be introduced in Kazakhstan's Almaty
Tesla short-sellers sitting on $3.5 billion weekly profits
Azerbaijani FM receives Pakistani FWO's Director General (PHOTO)
Resident of Azerbaijan's liberated Jabrayil district injured as result of mine explosion
Georgia creating new council to develop state enterprise reform strategy
Uzbekistan approves investment agreements on construction of wind farms in Bukhara region
Iran's raw steel exports shrink
Dutch company sets up concrete production plant in Uzbekistan’s Tashkent region
Georgian Railway to resume passenger transportation
Azerbaijan records growth of debit cards in January 2021
Azerbaijani company signs contracts for transportation of aluminum products to Turkey
Russia increasing supplies to Turkey along BTK railway
Main share of Czech investments in Georgia falls on energy sector
Oil refining volumes decrease in Kazakhstan year-on-year
Azerbaijan communications ministry working on stabilizing Internet in districts
Azerbaijan’s Azerishig, MERKABA-SOFT companies sign contract
Payments of Azerbaijani insurance companies double
Data on cotton yarn sales on Turkmenistan’s exchange in Jan.2021
Kazakhstan's national oil&gas company reports lower annual oil transportation volumes
Kazakhstan's KazMunayGas sees decrease in 2020 oil extraction
Azerbaijan sees Jan.2021 growth of national currency deposits in local banks
Georgia plans to hinder construction of plastics recycling plant in Kutaisi FIZ
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for February 25
AzTV will investigate historical assasinations (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan eyes to host meeting of Turkic Council countries' energy ministers in 2022
Zarif urges South Korea to release Iran's blocked assets
UK eager to restart U.S. talks on tariff removal
Saipem expects capex to rise in 2021
Central Bank of Azerbaijan announces winner of tender for survey on household plans
Central Bank of Azerbaijan shares data on revenues of Azerbaijani insurance companies
Number of trucks crossing through Iran's Jolfa border checkpoint revealed
German companies eye 'green economy' dev't projects in Kazakhstan
Kazakh investors interested in several sectors of Turkish economy
Assets of pawnshops and microcredit organizations in Uzbekistan increase
Kazakhstan's major copper company reveals its 2021 production guidance
Turkey's activity on Turkmenistan’s exchange in Jan.2021
Azerbaijani president takes part in ceremony of providing families of martyrs, disabled with apartments (PHOTO)
Details of import-export via Iran's Bushehr Province announced
President Ilham Aliyev attends opening of Shaghan Rehabilitation Pension (PHOTO)
KAZ Minerals provides update on Baimskaya Project in co-op with Russia
Military coup attempt in Armenia - PM inviting supporters to Republic Square
Uzbek agriculture ministry to create system to monitor irrigated lands
Pashinyan dismisses head of General Staff
Armenian General Staff demands Pashinyan's resignation
Azerbaijani banks' foreign currency demand down
Azerbaijan privatizes several district public properties via auctions
Turkmenistan prepares to host transport conference for landlocked developing countries
Bakcell launches internet package for online education and work
Iran starts exporting products from Tombak port
Georgian PM appoints Vice PMs
Extraction from Iran's South Pars gas field exceeds plan
Kazakhstan's KAZ Minerals reports increase in revenues
TOP-5 trading partners of Azerbaijan in Jan. 2021
Georgia to extend grace period for auto importers
Saipem’s capex down, net financial debt up in 2020
Kazakh national atomic company's subsidiary opens tender to repair vehicles
Saipem sees decrease in revenues due to slowdown of projects
Barclays lifts 2021 oil price outlook on tighter U.S. supply view
Azerbaijani MFA comments on statements by Luxembourg's FM
Khojaly genocide - heaviest crime of last century, says Turkish Parliament's chairman
Turkey records more revenue from Jan.2021 car exports to France
All news