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Kosovo anti-Serbia demo

October 22, 2012

Police in Pristina have used teargas to control a demonstration against negotiations with Belgrade. Security forces stepped in after an angry crowd attempted to storm Kosovo's parliament building.

Protesters of the "Vetevendosja" (Self-determination) opposition movement gesture in front of a Kosovo special police unit, during a demonstration in the center of Pristina October 22, 2012.
Image: Reuters

Kosovo police said on Monday that 18 officers and four protesters were wounded as ethnic-Albanian Kosovo nationalists vented their anger over European Union-brokered talks with Serbia.

Authorities said they were "forced to intervene" during a tense stand-off interspersed by scenes of sporadic violence.

Demonstrators threw stones at police who responded with tear gas and pepper spray. Police said they had arrested 26 people.

The protest was called by the Kosovan nationalist movement Vetevendosje - the third largest group in parliament - which argues that Kosovo and Serbia have nothing to talk about.

Several members of the party were briefly detained, according to police.

The EU-brokered talks are aimed at normalizing relations between the neighboring states. The most recent high-level meeting between Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic, covered issues such as trade, transport, telecommunications and energy.

The two neighbors have a shared history that has fraught with tension. Serbia lost control of its southern province of Kosovo after a 1999 NATO bombing campaign brought an end to an inter-ethnic conflict in the territory. Kosovo was subsequently placed under United Nations administration, but unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in early 2008. Ninety states, including 22 of the EU's 27 states have since recognized Kosovo as an independent state. Serbian leaders, though, have repeatedly ruled out the possibility.

rc/pfd (AP, dpa, AFP)