Hundreds of Serbs protest Kosovo currency reform
February 12, 2024 07:02 PM
Hundreds of ethnic Serbs demonstrated in northern Kosovo on Monday against a new regulation targeting the Serbian dinar currency.
Protestors crammed into the main thoroughfare on the Serb side of the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica, an AFP reporter saw.
They waved Serbian flags and held placards denouncing the new ruling that makes the euro the only legal currency for payments in commercial transactions.
The protest was organised by an association of Kosovo Serb pensioners, who said the rule threatened their livelihood.
"The decision to abolish the dinar, to make it impossible for us to get our well-deserved pensions, means literally that our piece of bread is being abolished, our life is being abolished," pensioner Dusanka Djorovic told the crowd while speaking from an improvised stage.
Kosovo's roughly 120,000-member Serb community has held tight to the dinar since a brutal late-1990s war between Serbia and ethnic Albanian insurgents saw Serbian troops and government personnel withdraw from the breakaway province.
Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti sparred over the new regulation during an emergency meeting at the UN Security Council in New York last week.
Kurti has insisted a month-long transitional period was in effect to ease into the new regulation, allowing time to resolve issues.
The meeting at the UN was held hours after Serbia accused the Kosovo government of physically blocking a shipment of dinars at the border on Wednesday.
Serbia's central bank said the shipment was set to pay salaries, pensions, social benefits and other payments to Serbs in Kosovo.
Serbia has never acknowledged Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence, with the rivals regularly locked in fierce disagreements over bureaucratic matters in the former breakaway province, such as a recent spat over licence plates.
Kosovo adopted the euro as its currency in 2002, despite not being a formal member of the eurozone nor the European Union.
The currency regulation follows a tumultuous year in Kosovo that saw an armed standoff between Serb gunmen and police at a monastery near the Serbian border in September. At least four people were killed.