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Defiant Serbs open assembly in Kosovo

Defiant Serbs open assembly in Kosovo
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Amid a patriotic mood on the anniversary of Serbia’s most famous historical battle, Kosovo’s Serb community has sent a defiant message to the ethnic-Albanian government by inaugurating its own assembly.

At the site of the 14th century Battle of Kosovo, the head of the Serb Orthodox Church spoke of Kosovo’s link to Serb national identity. “Without Kosovo Serbia cannot exist and will not exist. We are praying here today in this holy place to prove our existence,” said Bishop Artemije.

It is the first memorial of the battle since the ethnic-Albanian majority declared Kosovo’s independence, a move opposed by most of the Serb minority. After a religious ceremony in Gracanica, hardline Kosovo Serbs travelled to the battlefield site near Pristina, and on to Mitrovica to convene a new 53-seat assembly.

It has no real power but represents a challenge to Kosovo’s ethnic-Albanian leaders and the 43 states that have so far recognised the state’s independence. Kosovo’s government has condemned the assembly as an act of provocation, while the UN mission there has dismissed it as “symbolic.”

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