Serbian star tennis player Novak Djokovic spoke out in support of Serbs in Kosovo after his match at the 2023 French Open tennis tournament.
Djokovic beat US player Aleksandar Kovacevic in the first round of the tournament on Monday and wrote on a video camera after the match “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia. Stop the violence.”
“I don’t know what will happen, whether I will be punished, I know that foreign journalists have already written about this. I have no doubts, I would do it again. I am against any wars and conflicts, I have always stated this publicly,” Djokovic was quoted as saying by Serbian news portal telegraf.rs.
The Serbian tennis star had already spoken out publicly in defense of Serbia’s territorial integrity and against the recognition of Kosovo as an independent state in 2008. At the time, he recorded a video message for a rally in Belgrade.
On Saturday, Serbia’s National Security Council condemned NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) for standing by while Kosovar police used force to install new Albanian mayors in Serb-majority northern provinces. Later in the day, Serbian Defense Minister Milos Vucevic said the Serbian army was deploying its units near Kosovo in anticipation of provocations.
On Monday, hundreds of Kosovo Serbs came to local administration buildings demanding the withdrawal of Kosovar police and officials. The KFOR mission’s troops, equipped with crowd dispersal devices, were deployed in the municipalities of Zvecan, Leposaviq and Zubin Potok.
At least 52 Serbs have been injured during the clashes in Kosovo, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said. Media reported that at least 41 soldiers of the KFOR contingent also received injuries in clashes, with the mission itself confirming 25 injuries.