Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

Stefanović: No one will threaten our people, nor will anyone tell us where to use our troops in central Serbia

Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Nebojša Stefanović, PhD, and Chief of the Serbian Armed Forces General Staff, General Milan Mojsilović, visited the Serbian troops that are on high alert, deployed as part of tactical groups in the Raška garrison, Rudnica military base and in the direction of the administrative crossing Jarinje.
  Let us remind you, following the provocations by Kosovo’s Rosu units, which have been in the north of Kosovo and Metohija for seven days, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, ordered that the combat readiness of some of the Serbian Armed Forces and Police units be raised.

- The tensions caused by Pristina’s special units for the seventh day in a row, with the aim of instilling fear among the Serbian people in the north of Kosovo and Metohija, must be stopped. It is not easy to talk to those who do not adhere to any international agreements and cause destabilization. The strong Serbian Armed Forces are a guarantee that there will be no new pogroms of Serbs, or operations like "Storm" and "Flash". We want peace and stability, but we will not allow anyone to threaten our people, or tell us where to use our military and police in central Serbia. That is Serbia’s sovereign decision. For days, Brussels has not reacted to the madness and lawlessness that is happening in the north of Kosovo and Metohija, only to call on both sides to de-escalate the tensions when helicopters and planes appeared in the Serbian sky. Belgrade and Pristina should not be equalized. They should call on the temporary Pristina authorities to lower tensions, and above all to urgently withdraw special units of the so-called Kosovo police from the north - said Minister Stefanović in Jarinje, after the visit.

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, and the Russian Defence Attaché, Major General Alexander Zinchenko, also visited our troops and saw the current situation.
  - Unfortunately, for seven days now, there has been a complete violation of both the Brussels Agreement and Resolution 1244, but also the agreement between the Republic of Serbia and KFOR. Special units of the so-called Kosovo Police are located in the north of Kosovo and Metohija and are undertaking activities that bring unrest and threaten stability, not only of the Republic of Serbia, but also of the entire region. Such behaviour is not accidental and we do not think that something as benign as license plates is the real cause. We want to talk, because our goal is to protect peace and stability, but we also want to protect the lives of Serbs and their security in Kosovo and Metohija - said Stefanović.
According to him, this is a part of a bigger campaign that has been conducted for years whereby Pristina is trying to bring about the emigration of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija or some more extreme solution.

- De-escalation should be demanded from the temporary Pristina authorities, because they are the only ones that cause instability. They need to withdraw their special units at once and return things to former state, as they had been the day before they caused this kind of unrest and tension in the entire region. Only then can we sit down and talk about further moves - Minister Stefanović pointed out.

The Minister of Defence points out that Serbia is determined to tell all international institutions about the events in Kosovo and Metohija and Pristina's non-compliance with international regulations.

- In the coming days, our Prosecutor's Office will consider whether there are grounds for bringing proceedings against those members of Rosu who committed various types of crimes over the last several days against Serbs in our southern province. We will tell all international institutions about what is happening in Kosovo and Metohija and why international regulations, the United Nations Resolution and the Brussels Agreement are not being adhered to. For eight years now, Pristina has not adhered to the agreement it committed itself to, with the guarantees of the European Union. The Brussels agreement is not being implemented, the Union of Serbian Municipalities has not been formed, but Serbs are being arrested and harassed, billboards with the words "Welcome to the Union of Serbian Municipalities" are being torn down - Minister Stefanović says, pointing out that it is senseless to arrest Serbs seeking fulfilment of what the two sides agreed on before the European Union.
  Minister Stefanović thanked the Ambassador of the Russian Federation, Botsan-Kharchenko, and the Russian Defence Attaché, Major General Zinchenko, for showing interest in the situation on the administrative border and in the north of Kosovo and Metohija.

- Serbia strictly adheres to all international agreements. We are acting within our rights, but we are very worried about the security situation in the north of Kosovo and Metohija, but also in the entire region. We want to acquaint our friends, who strongly support the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia, with what we are undertaking and why the overall situation is very dangerous - Minister Stefanović said.
According to him, talks with Pristina are impossible if the situation does not return to former state, and there is no room for falsely equalizing Belgrade with Pristina when calling for de-escalation.

- We did not arrest anyone, we did not enter the north, we did not rattle weapons in Kosovo and Metohija, we did not do a single thing to heighten the tension. In the meantime, Pristina's campaign is underway in the north, the sole purpose of which is to cause tensions and threaten the Serbian people. And that needs to stop - Minister Stefanović underlined.

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, confirmed Russia's support for Belgrade's position and expressed the concern of official Moscow. He referred to President Vučić’s position and the conclusions reached at the session of the National Security Council, proposing a way to return the situation to the path of seeking compromise and normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
- Of course, the responsibility for the new, very dangerous situation for the wider region lies with the temporary Pristina institutions. This is perfectly clear. Accumulated troops, violation of all existing agreements, non-fulfilment of agreements that were signed earlier, provocations, threats against Serbs living in Kosovo and Metohija. As for the Brussels dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, there is not a single sign, or a desire for compromise and continuation of the dialogue. This shows Pristina’s dangerous attitude, the pressure on Serbs to come out, to leave their homes. This points to the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo - said Botsan-Kharchenko.
  The Russian ambassador called the position of the western partners "strange" and "harmful", emphasizing that they close their eyes to the situation which is very dangerous, although everyone understands who is guilty and what the reason for such provocations is.

- These are not the old double standards, but multiple standards and simultaneous appeals to Pristina, which is to blame for the situation, and to Belgrade, which fulfils all its obligations and does not make any provocations - the ambassador said, adding that during this visit, he saw Serbia’s restrained behaviour.

Ambassador Botsan-Kharchenko added that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is now in New York and expressed his conviction that Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, will take the opportunity and use its position to ease the situation and find a solution.

mp4 (127,34 MB)
The visit
Minister Stefanovic's statement
mp4 (406,13 MB)
Russian Ambassador Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko's statement