October 22, 2012 - 17:06 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Police fired teargas in Kosovo on Monday, Oct 22 to disperse opposition activists demonstrating against a new push by the European Union to improve ties between Serbia and its former southern province, Reuters reported.
The clashes, in which 18 police officers were injured, followed a meeting last week in Brussels between Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic.
It was the first meeting at such a level since majority-Albanian Kosovo declared independence in 2008.
The EU says the two must normalize relations and solve a range of practical problems arising from Serbia's refusal to recognize Kosovo if they are to make further progress towards membership of the bloc.
But hardliners in Kosovo say they have nothing to discuss with Serbia, which was bombed by NATO in 1999 to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians by Serb forces under late strongman Slobodan Milosevic during a two-year counter-insurgency war.
Up to 200 activists of the opposition Vetevendosje (Self-determination) party tried to blockade Thaci's office in protest at his meeting with Dacic, who was Milosevic's wartime spokesman.
Police drove them back with pepper spray and teargas. The protesters pelted officers with stones, police said.
EU-mediated talks are expected to resume in November, focusing on a range of practical problems arising from the lack of diplomatic relations, such as energy supplies, a telephone country code for Kosovo and management of their joint border.
Kosovo has been recognized by more than 90 countries, including the United States and 22 of the EU's 27 members.