Security has been stepped up in the breakaway province of Kosovo ahead of demonstrations set for this weekend. Nato peacekeeping forces and local police have been on alert since plans proposed by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari for the future of Kosovo were made public last month.
Today’s protest, in the provincial capital Pristina, is organised by the militant ethnic Albanian group whose name translated is “Self-Determination”. They want to declare unilateral independence from Serbia. “Ahtisaari’s proposal is denying our right of Self-determination to the people of Kosovo, that’s why we think that Ahtisaari’s package is not according to the political will of Kosovo,” said a spokesperson for the group.
More than 90 percent of Kosovans are ethnic Albanian and after years of turmoil and violence they are demanding independence from Serbia. But Belgrade and the minority Serbs in the province are opposed. On Friday, Martti Ahtisaari admitted that talks held in Vienna to agree his blueprint for the province had produced no agreement. He has called a final meeting for March 10 before he goes to the UN Security Council.
Recent unrest reflects the growing tensions in the area. Although the plans back a form of independence, Serbia’s close ally Russia is expected to exercise its veto at the security council – something which the West fears could tip the province back into chaos.