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Serbia, Kosovo leaders to meet with EU after election violence

By Fatos Bytyci PRISTINA (Reuters) - Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss how to press ahead with a landmark accord to tackle Kosovo's de facto ethnic partition after violence marred local elections in the Balkan country. A small Serb pocket of majority-Albanian Kosovo joined in Sunday's Kosovo-wide council and mayoral elections but voting had to be suspended after masked men attacked polling stations in the area, lobbing tear gas and smashing ballot boxes.

NATO condemns Kosovo election violence

NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Monday "strongly condemned" the violence that marred key weekend polls in Kosovo and said the military alliance was committed to maintaining its presence there. Rasmussen said NATO troops in Kosovo stepped in at the request of the European Union on Sunday, when Serb extremists stormed a polling station in Kosovska Mitrovica, the main Serb-populated town in the ethnically divided territory. "Violence and intimidation cannot be tolerated," Rasmussen told a press conference. "I strongly condemn attacks on polling stations."

Kosovo vote, key to Serb integration, marred by violence, boycott

By Aleksandar Vasovic MITROVICA, Kosovo (Reuters) - An election in Kosovo designed to help end years of de facto ethnic partition was marred by violence and intimidation by Serb hardliners on Sunday, undermining a fragile EU-brokered pact between the Balkan country and former master Serbia. Two hours before polls closed in the ethnically-divided town of Mitrovica, a volatile Serb pocket of northern Kosovo, masked men burst into three schools housing polling stations on the Serb side, lobbing tear gas and smashing ballot boxes.

Boycott fears, intimidation mar Kosovo vote

Fears of low turnout and reports of voter intimidation marred key local polls in Kosovo on Sunday, the first in which ethnic Serbs have been encouraged to vote since the territory proclaimed independence in 2008. The election of deputies and mayors in 36 Kosovo municipalities is being watched closely by Brussels as a test of relations between Pristina and Belgrade after a historic EU-brokered deal in April to normalise ties.

Boycott fears, intimidation mar Kosovo vote

Polls opened in Kosovo local elections Sunday amid fears of a boycott by minority Serbs, voting for the first time since the breakaway territory proclaimed independence in 2008, and reports of intimidation. The election of deputies and mayors in 36 Kosovo municipalities is being watched closely by the EU as a key test of relations between Pristina and Serbia after an historic deal in April to improve ties.

Kosovo vote key test for EU-backed deal with Serbia

Polls opened Sunday in key local elections in Kosovo that are being closely watched by the European Union amid fears of a boycott by minority Serbs, voting for the first time since independence in 2008. The election of deputies and mayors in 36 Kosovo municipalities is seen as a key test of relations between Pristina and Serbia after an historic EU-brokered deal to improve ties. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but the Serb minority living in the north of Kosovo still refuses to accept the government in Pristina.

Kosovo elections key in Serbia EU entry talks

Key local elections in Kosovo on Sunday will be closely watched for the turnout of its minority Serb population and is seen as a vital step in Serbia's bid to join the European Union. Kosovo, the territory which sparked a war between Serb forces and ethnic Albanian rebels in 1998-1999, remains the main stumbling block to Serbia's bid to join the bloc. There are some 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo. The 40,000 living in the north, which has maintained a certain control of institutions, are torn over whether to vote in the elections, backed for the first time by Belgrade.

Kosovo elections key in Serbia EU entry talks

Key local elections in Kosovo on Sunday will be closely watched for the turnout of its minority Serb population and as a vital step in Serbia's bid to join the European Union. Kosovo, the territory which sparked a war between Serb forces and ethnic Albanian rebels in 1998-1999, remains the main stumbling block in Serbia's membership process. There are some 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo. The 40,000 living in the north, which has maintained a certain control of institutions, are torn over whether to vote in the elections, backed for the first time by Belgrade.

EU urges high turnout in Kosovo vote, increases funding

The European Union urged voters across Kosovo on Thursday, including Kosovo Serbs, to participate in key weekend local elections as it announced extra funding to cushion a Serbia-Kosovo peace deal. "The November 3 elections are a key moment in Kosovo's future and are an important element in the implementation of the April Agreement and the process of normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

OSCE warns of intimidation in north Kosovo ahead of vote

By Fatos Bytyci PRISTINA (Reuters) - Europe's chief rights and democracy watchdog warned on Thursday of a campaign of intimidation among Serbs in north Kosovo before an election central to a fragile EU-brokered accord between Serbia and its former southern province. Sunday's Kosovo municipal election is the first to include a small Serb-populated pocket in the north, which has resisted integration since Kosovo - where 90 percent of the population is Albanian - declared independence in 2008.
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