Bosnian Serbs protest again against Kosovo's independence

Other News Materials 26 February 2008 18:25 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - More than 10,000 people gathered Tuesday in the Bosnian Serb city of Banja Luka to protest again against the independence of Kosovo and to give support to Serbs living in the former Serbian province.

The protesters gathered at central Banja Luka's square amid a strong deployment of police troops to prevent the kind of unrest that last week saw protestors attack the French, German and US diplomatic missions in Banja Luka.

The police used teargas after a group of protesters tried to access the US Consulate, which was temporarily closed after last week's violent protests.

The protesters then attacked the police with stones, but the police managed to disperse the group.

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik also appeared at the protest organized by the Serb Movement of Non-governmental Associations (SPONA).

"I am proud to be a Serb ... As long as we live here we will not recognize an independent Kosovo," Dodik told the crowd.

Although no particular connection exists between Bosnian Serbs and the issue of Kosovo, most of the Bosnian Serb political parties have directly linked the two issues, some even demanding the independence of the Bosnian Serb entity, the Srpska Republic, from Bosnia- Herzegovina.

In a similar vein the Bosnian Serb National Assembly last week adopted a resolution that said that the independence of Kosovo is unacceptable, adding that Srpska itself has a right to hold a referendum on independence.

Bosnian Serb officials said they would never allow their representatives in Bosnia-Herzegovina's joint institutions to vote for the recognition of an independent Kosovo, although the country's top officials have said they would not hurry to recognise the new state anyway.