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French minister tells Djokovic to stay out of politics as tensions rise in Kosovo

The US-led military alliance said it had decided to send Operational Reserve Forces to Kosovo and train an additional battalion of troops to be ready to deploy in seven days if necessary.

Polish soldiers, part of an international peacekeeping mission, in the town of Zvecan, Kosovo, where street art celebrates former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, who in 2017 was found guilty in The Hague of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found that Mladic was ultimately responsible for the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.Credit: access point

Street violence since Monday is the worst in years in Kosovo and threatens to derail an EU-brokered deal aimed at normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

The United States has canceled Kosovo’s participation in NATO’s ongoing military exercises, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for de-escalation and a return to diplomatic talks.

The Kosovo tennis federation said on Tuesday that Djokovic’s comments were “deplorable” because he was stoking tensions between Serbia and Kosovo. However, the world governing body, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), said Djokovic’s statement did not violate any rules because the grand slam rulebook did not prohibit political statements.

“We received a letter from Kosovo, to which we have responded,” said ITF president David Haggerty.

“But essentially we have sent your letter to the French federation, to the French Open, it is your tournament, and to the ATP which has the rules; the two of them together have the rules and regulations for the event.”

Serbs pass through Zvecan, in northern Kosovo, carrying a giant Serbian flag.

Serbs pass through Zvecan, in northern Kosovo, carrying a giant Serbian flag.Credit: access point

Haggerty said the athletes had to be “careful about their political views” and that the federation would prefer they “keep them separate”.

Djokovic, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, was scheduled to play Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the second round of Roland Garros on Wednesday night (Paris time).

Speaking to Serbian-language reporters, Djokovic said on Monday that he thought what he wrote on the TV camera was “the least I could do. I feel responsibility as a public figure… as well as the son of a man who was born in Kosovo.”

“I am not a politician and I do not intend to enter the political debate. This topic is very sensitive. As a Serb, everything that is happening in Kosovo hurts me a lot, ”he said.

Kosovo Olympic officials have also called on the International Olympic Committee to open disciplinary proceedings against Djokovic.

It is the second time in as many Grand Slam tournaments that Djokovic has been dragged into a political scandal after his father was filmed at the Australian Open in Melbourne earlier this year, he appeared to say “long live the Russians” in Serbian alongside fans waving banned Russian flags.

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