Belgrade [Serbia], February 13: Around 90,000 ethnic Serbs protested peacefully in northern Kosovo on Monday against the planned removal of the Serbian dinar as a means of payment in the territory.
The rally in Kosovska Mitrovica was called by the pensioners' association, supported by political representatives of the ethnic Serbs.
Since February 1, when an order from the central bank came into force in Kosovo, cash payments may only be made in the official currency, the euro, and no longer in dinars.
Under pressure from the European Union and the United States, the government in Pristina has not yet implemented this new regulation but has granted an as yet undefined transitional period.
The issue could further increase the tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, which have been growing for months.
The authorities in Pristina say around 90,000 ethnic Serbs in Kosovo receive pensions, salaries and social benefits from Serbia and they are paid in dinars. Serbia also finances schools and health-care facilities in northern Kosovo.
Kosovo is not currently penalizing dinar payments, but the transfer of money from Serbia has been monitored more closely since February 1.
The government in Pristina has declared that it does not want to ban the payments from Serbia; Rather, the aim is to make them more transparent, Kosovan Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi said recently.
He said less than 200 millioneuros ($216 million) in pensions, salaries and social benefits are transferred from Serbia to Kosovo every year. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has put this amount at 800euros million, leading Bislimi to say that it is unclear where the remaining 600 euros million went.
Source: Qatar Tribune