- Title: BOSNIA: Bosnian Serbs vent anger over Kosovo independence
- Date: 26th February 2008
- Summary: FIRE ENGINE DRIVING BETWEEN POLICE AND DEMONSTRATORS, DEMONSTRATORS START DISPERSING DEMONSTRATORS CHANTING 'SERBIA! KINGDOM OF SERBIA!'
- Embargoed: 12th March 2008 12:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA182XQMGTP6C3S7T0YJ12DPBX1
- Story Text: Hundreds of Bosnian Serbs, angered by Kosovo's independence, rally in Banja Luka.
Demonstrators waved Serbian and Serb Republic flags and held pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as they vented their anger on Tuesday (February 26) over the former Serbian southern province's secession.
The parliament of the Serb Republic adopted a resolution last Thursday (February 21) branding Kosovo's declaration of independence an illegal act that violated Serbia's territorial integrity.
It warned that Kosovo's recognition by major powers was setting a new international precedent.
Bosnia is made up of the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation, a dual-entity state created by the Dayton accords that ended the 1992-95 war among Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims.
Bosnian Serbs want to keep a high degree of autonomy and have closer links with Serbia. Muslims and Croats want a stronger state able to lead the country towards European Union membership.
"Our message we want to send from here is very clear. We tell you peacefully as long as we live here we won't accept any act of violence which separated Kosovo from Serbia. Written on the badge I am wearing on my chest is 'Kosovo is Serbia'," said Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik as he addressed a rally in downtown Banja Luka.
Dodik has called on the Bosnian Muslims and Croats to accept the Serb Republic as reality so that they all can live together.
Bosnian Serb lawmakers have threatened to hold a referendum on secession from Bosnia if a majority of U.N. member states and the European Union recognise Kosovo's independence.
The resolution, adopted solely by the Serb MPs, warned that unless Bosnia's state institutions confirmed the Serb Republic's autonomy, as laid out in the 1995 Dayton peace accords, the Serb Republic would reconsider its status in the country.
About two hundred protesters, mainly youths, threw rocks at the police as they tried to reach the U.S. Consulate on Tuesday.
The police used tear gas against the protesters who were chanting 'Serbia! Kingdom of Serbia'.
The windows of a Croatian shop in the city were broken by protesters.
The U.S. office in the Serb Republic capital Banja Luka was closed last Thursday (February 21) following violence at a rally when three policemen were seriously wounded trying to prevent protesters from breaking in.
Nearly 30 protesters were detained, most of them minors.
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