December 6, 2022

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What is happening on the border between Serbia and Kosovo.  Barriers, shots and closed passages

What is happening on the border between Serbia and Kosovo. Barriers, shots and closed passages

Kosovo police said they closed two border crossings in the north of the country. According to her, this decision was made due to the protest of Serbs living in northern Kosovo who oppose the order to change the plates of Serbian cars to Kosovo plates. “Towards the police units, but fortunately no one was hurt,” it was reported. The announcement of the tense situation on the border was issued by the international peacekeeping force of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (KFOR) operating in Kosovo.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia In 2008. It was recognized as an independent country by more than 100 countries, but not by Serbia either Russia. About 50,000 Serbs living in northern Kosovo use registration plates and documents issued by Serbian authorities, refusing to recognize the institution in the capital, Pristina.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s government has announced that it will give Serbs a 60-day transition period, effective August 1, to obtain Kosovo license plates. A year ago, the government abandoned attempts to enforce these regulations due to protests. In addition, the government decided that from August 1, all Serb citizens visiting Kosovo will have to obtain an additional document at the border that allows them to enter. Belgrade has introduced similar regulations for Kosovar citizens visiting the country.

Local Serbs protests in northern Kosovo in 2021 (photo from October 2021)Reuters archive

A year ago, the Serbs also closed roads near the border crossings (photo from October 2021)Reuters archive

Kosovo police close border crossings due to Serbs protest

In protest, Serbs living in northern Kosovo stopped trucks full of gravel and heavy equipment on the roads to the two border crossings, Yaringi and Prnjak. They are present in lands where Serbs make up the majority of the local community.

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When a very similar Serbian protest broke out a year ago, NATO peacekeepers kept the order (photo from October 2021)Reuters archive

As a result, the Kosovo police said they had to close the border crossings. “We call on all citizens to use other border crossings,” she announced on her personal Facebook page.

There were reports of shots being fired “at police units, but fortunately no one was hurt”. The officers also said that protesters beat several Albanians who were crossing closed roads and that some cars were attacked.

In the small town of Mitrovica, populated mainly by Serbs, sirens were heard for more than three hours on Sunday.

NATO soldiers immediately. Kfour advertisement

The message on the recent events on the border was issued by a peacekeeping mission operating in Kosovo of 3,770 soldiers For this (Kfour). As we have explained, “the overall situation in northern Kosovo is tense” and the KFOR “is closely monitoring this” and if “stability is threatened” they are ready to respond in line with their mandate. She added that the commander of the International Security Force in Kosovo is in constant contact with all parties, including representatives of the Serbian security forces and the country’s defense minister.

“NATO fully supports the process of normalizing relations between Pristina and Belgrade through dialogue under the auspices of the European Union and calls on all parties to continue negotiations,” the press release said.

Both Kosovo and Serbia committed to such a dialogue in 2013 to try to resolve their outstanding disputes, but little progress has been made.

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Main image source: Reuters archive