PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo denounced on Friday the burning of a Greek flag by local soccer fans whose club lost a Europa League qualifying match against a team from Cyprus.
Fans burned the flag on Thursday in the city of Pristina, where SC Gjilani lost to APOEL Nicosia 2-0 and was eliminated from the competition.
“We strongly denounce any offending act against national symbols of any country, in this case of Greece,” Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj Stublla said in a statement. “Kosovo and Greece have installed a practical dialogue, have connecting offices in their capitals and both countries work to further deepen their dialogue.”
The incident came 10 days before Kosovo’s national team hosts Greece in Pristina in the UEFA Nations League. That Sept. 6 game, like Thursday’s, will be played without fans in the stadium following a UEFA order during the pandemic.
Haradinaj Stublla also urged law enforcement authorities “to react fast and take to justice the authors of this act,” which she called “a shameful act in full contradiction to the ideas embraced from the Kosovo people as a democratic society.”
Greece has not recognized Kosovo’s 2008 independence following a conflict with Serbia in 1998-99. The war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign against Serbian troops.
Serbia, too, has not recognized Kosovo’s independence.
UEFA rules for international tournament draws prohibit Kosovo being drawn in the same group as Serbia, Russia or Bosnia-Herzegovina for security reasons.
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