Tennis star Djokovic backs Kosovo comments after criticism


The Serbian icon wrote “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” on a camera lens at the French Open on Monday, the day 30 NATO peacekeepers were injured in clashes.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic said he stood by his statement about Kosovo but was keen to put the controversy behind him after his second-round win at the French Open on Wednesday.

The world No. 3 wrote: “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” on a camera lens after his first-round win on Monday, a day when 30 NATO peacekeepers were injured in clashes with Serb protesters in the Kosovo town of Zvecan — where Djokovic the father grew up.

It caused an uproar, with Kosovo’s Olympic authorities asking the International Olympic Committee to open disciplinary proceedings against Djokovic and French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera, saying the 22-time Grand Slam winner’s comments were “not appropriate”.

Djokovic is not set to face any punishment as both the French and international tennis federations have said no Grand Slam rules were broken.

“I would say it again, but you don’t have to because you have my quotes if you want to reflect on that,” Djokovic said in a press conference on Wednesday.

“Of course I know a lot of people would disagree, but it is what it is. It’s something I support. So that’s all. I have no further comment on this. I said what I had to say.”

NATO is ready to deploy more troops to Kosovo to quell violence in the ethnically polarized north, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday, adding that the first 700 reinforcements were on their way.

“NATO will remain vigilant. We will be there to ensure a safe environment, as well as to calm and reduce tensions,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo.

Unrest in northern Kosovo has intensified since Albanian mayors took office in the Serb-held region of the region following April elections that were boycotted by Serbs, a move that led the US and its allies to rebuke Pristina.

NATO has decided to boost its 4,000-strong mission in the region with 700 extra troops after 30 KFOR peacekeepers and 52 Serbian protesters were injured on Monday.

Stoltenberg called the violence against NATO troops “totally unacceptable” and said the allies were preparing more troops in case NATO needed to send additional reinforcements to the region.

“Our message to both Belgrade and Pristina is that they must participate in good faith in the EU-facilitated dialogue,” he added.


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