Serbs Protest Currency Ban in Kosovo

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Kosovo Serbs congregated in Mitrovica to voice their opposition to Priština’s recent decision to exclusively adopt the Euro as the legal currency, sparking widespread protests among the minority community residing in Kosovo.

Tensions Escalate Over Currency Usage

The government of Kosovo, once a Serbian province, ignited tensions by prohibiting the use of the Serbian dinar in Serb-populated regions, mandating the adoption of the euro instead. This move particularly impacted ethnic Serbian-dominated areas, where the dinar was commonly utilized for various transactions, including pension and salary payments in Serbian-run institutions.

Protesters Voice Discontent

Thousands of demonstrators in Mitrovica decried the ban on the dinar, viewing it as a violation of Serb rights in Kosovo and discriminatory in nature. They urged the international community to intervene and pressure the Kosovo government into reversing its decision, highlighting concerns about the welfare of vulnerable segments of society affected by the currency change.

Kosovo Prime Minister Defends Decision

Prime Minister Albin Kurti defended the currency transition, asserting its aim to combat illicit financial activities. He emphasized that the measure did not prevent Serbia from providing financial support to Kosovo’s Serb community, clarifying that currency exchange would now occur through regulated banking channels rather than physical border crossings.

Context of Historical Dispute

The roots of the current tensions trace back to the 1999 conflict between Serbian government forces and ethnic Albanian separatists in Kosovo, ultimately resulting in NATO intervention and the expulsion of Serbian forces from the region. Despite Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Serbia has never recognized it as such, considering it a Serbian province, perpetuating a longstanding dispute.

International Concerns and Calls for Diplomacy

The European Union and the United States have expressed apprehension over the currency ban’s potential to exacerbate existing tensions in the Balkans, urging dialogue and a postponement of the decision. As negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo aimed at normalizing relations progress sluggishly, international observers remain vigilant, wary of further instability in the region amid ongoing conflicts elsewhere.

SOURCE: Ref Image from City News Toronto

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