Recently elected Serbian President, Boris Tadić, has responded to yesterday evening’s violence in Belgrade, which involved the torching of the US Embassy by an unruly mob numbering hundreds. The mob was but a tiny minority of the crowd of hundreds of thousands, which had gathered earlier in the day to peacefully protest Kosovo’s declaration of independence on Monday of this week. Tadić, a the leader of the moderate Democratic Party in Serbia, had this to say about the events:
Tadić, who was in Romania Thursday, today said he has “asked all relevant institutions for reports on yesterday’s unrest in Belgrade”.
For the same reason, he was called a session of the Council for National Security…
…Tadić is also strongly condemning the violence, looting and burning, that ended in one death and nearly 200 injured, as well as huge material damage to the city.
“There is no justification for violence, no one must dare to justify it with a single word,” his press service said in a statement…
…Tadić went on to say that “this is not Serbia and Serbia will never be like this”.
“The state must have law and order and such violence must never happen again, anywhere,” Tadić said.
The Washington Post reports that following a massive (upwards of 150,000 participants) and peaceful demonstration in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, with the theme “Kosovo is Serbia”, a group numbering a few thousand at most has attacked the US and (neighboring) Croatian embassies, setting the US embassy on fire. The demonstrations were held in the aftermath of Albanian Kosovars’ official declaration of independence on Monday. The US is one of many countries to have officially recognized Kosovo as the newest ex-Yugoslav independent state, setting off a public and official outcry on the part of Serbs, for whom Kosovo is the historical birthplace of their nation.
Politicians in Belgrade are caught between their rhetoric to do what it takes (short of violence) to prevent Kosovo from achieving full-fledged independence and the lack of many good non-violent options to do so, given the Serb leadership’s openly declared goal of one day joining the European Union. One possibility would be to energize (or otherwise entice) the Serbs in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina to agitate for higher levels of autonomy, or outright independence, stressing the similarities of the situations. This would certainly raise the ire of European leaders and would not earn the Serbs any bonus points in their quest for further integration into European political and economic institutions.
Here is footage from the Belgrade independent media outlet B92:
From the “About Video” (translated by me): Beograd — Stotine nasilnih demonstranata nakon završetka mitinga napalo američku i hrvatsku ambasadu. U 19:13 intervenisala policija.
“Upon the conclusion of the [official] demonstration, undreds of violent demonstrators attacked the American and Croatian embassies. The police intervened at 7:13 pm.”
You can find a gallery of photographs from the day in Belgrade at B92’s website here.