Around 2,000 ethnic Albanians have taken to the streets of the ethnically split town of Mitrovica in Kosovo, to protest against ongoing talks with Serbia.
The protesters waved Albanian flags and chanted anti-government slogans during the demonstration on Saturday.
“I am protesting against the division of Mitrovica. I am a former member of the [Kosovo] Liberation Army and I am very unhappy with what is going on,” Bexhet Gashi, an ethnic Albanian resident, said.
The demonstration comes before a crucial meeting on April 2 between Hashim Thaci, Kosovo’s prime minister, and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic, which is expected to result in an agreement which will also decide the future of the north of the country.
Mitrovica has often been a site of clashes between ethnic Albanians and Serbs, with international UN peacekeepers caught in the middle.
The deal, if reached with EU mediation in Brussels, should settle the dispute between the two former foes.
Some ethnic Albanians believe it paves the way for the Serb-run north to join Serbia by giving the local Serbs decision making power.
Serbs in the region do not recognise Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian-dominated institutions and want to join Serbia.
To obstruct any attempts by Kosovo to assert control over the area, they have blocked a main bridge with dirt.
Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has pledged not to recognise the move.