Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has paid a rare visit to Kosovo, raising the hackles of ethnic Albanians. Amid tight security, he headed for a small monastery town near the capital Pristina to mark a battle more than 600 years ago which is at the heart of Serbia’s claim to the province. “Kosovo always was and always will be part of Serbia,” he told supporters.
Kostunica has been in Kosovo just once since 1999, when NATO intervened to halt the killing of Albanian civilians in a war between Serb forces and separatist rebels. Ethnic Albanian demonstrators tried to block various points along the route he was travelling, prompting scuffles with police. More than 100 people were arrested.
Kostunica’s visit comes at a sensitive time. The West wants a decision this year on the province’s final status. Diplomats say it is likely to win some form of independence.