Angry Kosovo Serbs call Serbian President "traitor"

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic was booed during a visit to Kosovo on Saturday by ethnic Serbs who accused his government of betrayal for agreeing to normalise relations with the breakaway state.

AFP| Last Updated: Jun 28, 2014, 23:04 PM IST

Pristina: Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic was booed during a visit to Kosovo on Saturday by ethnic Serbs who accused his government of betrayal for agreeing to normalise relations with the breakaway state.

Nikolic was addressing around 1,000 Kosovo Serbs at a ceremony marking the anniversary of an historic 14th century battle at Gazimestan, around five kilometres (three miles) southwest of the capital Pristina.

Midway through his speech, several hundred people in the crowd began chanting "traitor" and booing.

Many Kosovan Serbs are angry over a landmark agreement signed last year that normalised ties between Serbia and Kosovo, a majority ethnic Albanian region that declared independence in 2008.

"You betrayed Kosovo!" and "Treason, treason!" were among the shouts directed at Nikolic.

He was forced to cut short his speech at the historic site where the Serbian army was defeated by the Ottoman Empire in the 1389 Battle of Kosovo.

That defeat paved the way for the Ottoman Empire`s 500-year rule in the Balkans, and is still remembered as a key moment in the clash between Christians and Muslims in the region.

A firecracker was thrown at Nikolic, forcing his bodyguards to gather around the president and escort him quickly from the scene in a bulletproof convoy.

"Today, our neighbour Albanians are building houses and are farming. I wish them luck but want them to know that they are building on Serb soil," Nikolic, a hardline nationalist-turned-pro-EU politician said before he was interrupted.

Serbia stopped short of recognising Kosovo`s independence in last year`s EU-brokered agreement but accepted the Pristina government`s control over the territory. It was rewarded with the opening of EU accession talks.

Ethnic Serbs number around 120,000 in Kosovo`s population of 1.8 million.

Kosovo`s declaration of independence has been recognised by more than 100 countries, including the United States and most EU member states.