Serbia on verge of isolation after riots

February 23rd, 2008 - 10:55 pm ICT by admin  

Belgrade, Feb 23 (DPA) Belgrade was quiet Saturday after a week of riots, which culminated in the ransacking of Western embassies and the death of one person. The incidents drew flak from major world powers, including the US as Serbia faces international isolation. The charred remains found in the attacked US embassy Thursday were of a 20-year-old student from Novi Sad. The violence erupted on the margin of a large rally, organised by Serbia’s leading parties in protest against Kosovo’s declaration of independence and the support it received from the West.

The attacks on US, German, Belgian, Turkish, Canadian, Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian and British diplomatic missions were preceded by similar violent incidents since Pristina announced a unilateral split from Serbian rule.

Amid what was seen as slow and meek police reaction, Slovenia provisionally closed its embassy in Belgrade, while the US evacuated part of its diplomatic personnel.

Several countries, including Germany, The Netherlands and the EU-presiding Slovenia issued advisories against travelling to Serbia, while Berlin has also suspended issuing visas to Serbs.

For its part, Serbia has withdrawn its ambassadors to all countries, which recognised Kosovo, for “consultations”.

Serbian nationalists, including Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica’s camp, appealed against violence and destruction, but did not explicitly condemn the “hooligans”, as the local media described the rioting mobs.

Serbia has drawn sharp protests from the US, the UN and Europe for its failure to defend the embassies.

“With the charred body in the US embassy, Kostunica is sending a message that charred bodies will be found everywhere where he finds something he doesn’t like,” the opposition Vojvodina Social Democrats leader Nenad Canak told the daily Blic.

Kostunica has been very critical of Washington, which he regularly describes as a law breaking “bully” intending to amputate Kosovo from Serbia chasing its own interest.

“The riots in Belgrade were organised to instil fear into anybody with a different opinion,” said Ivan Andric, an official of the Liberal-democratic Party (LDP).

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