”Incidents prevented voting in Kosovo-Metohija,” splashes Belgrade's Politika daily, using the traditional name still in use in Serbia to describe its former province.
Regarded as a test for the application of the agreements signed between Belgrade and Pristina under European Union auspices, these municipal elections were marked by violence in the north, largely ethnically Serbian, where nationalists attacked those who followed Belgrade’s call and went to the polls.
Voting participation in the north quickly slipped to 12 per cent as many residents chose to stay home rather than venture outside, continues Politika, compared to 60 per cent in the Serbian enclaves south of the Ibar River, which separates the two communities.
In Belgrade, officials condemned the perpetrators, branding them ”right-wing extremists”. The fate of Kosovo's Serbs must be in their own hands and not in the hands of right-wing extremists who are pushing the Serbs towards disaster,” said Prime Minister Ivica Dačić.
Politika adds that Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Aleksandar Vučić spent 45 minutes trying to get specific authorisation from the international administration to allow police in Belgrade to intervene and end to the violence that broke out in Mitrovica. The proposal was emphatically rejected by Pristina, which saw in it an attempt to compromise Kosovo’s sovereignty.
"Failure in the north," writes Albanian-language daily Koha Ditore from Pristina, highlighting the contrast with voting in Pristina, the Kosovo capital, where voting ended with a ”fireworks celebration." Nevertheless, these elections mark the ”beginning of change” in Kosovo, adds the daily.