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A senior Kosovo official says Serbia has deployed hundreds of police in Kosovo, who threaten any Kosovo Serbs who want to integrate.
Serbia has a well established police network in Kosovo, which it uses to pressurise Kosovo Serbs not to recognize the government in Pristina, a senior Kosovo official told BIRN.
Fisnik Rexhepi, an advisor to Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi, says Kosovo Police have information that Belgrade has kept hundreds of police in Kosovo on the payroll for years.
“They are officials working for the Serbian Interior Ministry, of different ranks," he claimed. "Their main role is to obstruct the democratic development of our country. They threaten and blackmail Serbs who have integrated into Kosovo’s institutional life,” Rexhepi added.
Media in Belgrade reported on Tuesday that the Serbian government has around 400 employees in Kosovo.
Belgrade's “Blic” newspaper said that during the visit of the US Under-Secretary of State, Philip Gordon, to Serbia, the diplomat asked Serbia’s President, Tomislav Nikolic, to stop financing security forces in the northern Serb-run part of Kosovo.
Serbia has never admitted officially that it has security forces in Kosovo.
But Rexhepi says that the Kosovo Police already have proof that Serbia is deploying such forces all around the country, not just in the north.
“A classical example is the case of the [Serb] mayor of Partesh, who was threatened directly by a MUP [Serbian Interior Ministry] official... He and others like him, working for Kosovo’s institutions, have received threats,” he said.
“Kosovo Police has information that Serbia has for years had hundreds of security people on its payroll.
"Such information has been shared with the international bodies that operate in Kosovo, concerning the activity of Serbia’s illegal structures and their network,” he added.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, during her tour of Serbia and Kosovo, also called on Belgrade to stop financing its structures in Kosovo, though she didn’t explicitly mention the police.
However, Kosovo Serb leaders in the northern municipalities have rejected claims that Serbia has any security forces deployed there.
Radenko Nedeljkovic, who heads the Serb-run Mitrovica District, told Serbia's Tanjug news agency that only former MUP employees are present in the north of Kosovo. He also said they have no police function, nor are they in uniform.
He dismissed the reports as part of “the psychological and propaganda war against Serbs”.
A court ordered house arrest for former minister Sylejman Selimi and six other Kosovo Liberation Army ex-guerrillas over alleged war crimes against civilian prisoners in 1998.
Kosovo said it will sue companies that establish contracts with the Trepca industrial complex after the US firm New Generation Power did so without due consultation.
Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo have agreed on a harmonized plan to implement the recent Brussels-led agreement, the EU foreign policy chief announced.
Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting between Kosovo and Serbia, German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle urged both sides to take real steps to implement their EU-brokered agreement.
Officials have launched a week-long series of events aimed at raising awareness about tolerance, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence between different religious faiths in Kosovo.
As Pristina and Belgrade seek agreement on implementing their EU-brokered deal, Albanian leaders in Serbia’s Presevo Valley are urging the Kosovo authorities to help them win more rights.
The Serbian paramilitary who became a key prosecution witness at his former comrades’ trial for war crimes in Kosovo says he had to speak out about the brutal massacres his unit committed.
Despite two failed meetings about the implementation of the EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia, officials hope that prime ministerial talks next week will see progress.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has invited the Serbian and Kosovo prime ministers to a meeting next week to discuss how to implement their Brussels-brokered deal.
NATO’s Kosovo force warned that only authorised policing groups are allowed to carry weapons in northern Kosovo, not Serb-organised ‘civil defence’ units.
Kosovo's authority will be introduced to Serb-run northern Kosovo in three stages, BIRN can reveal, as Kosovo Serb leaders warn the EU-backed plan may prompt them to emigrate.