August 16, 2022

Taylor Daily Press

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Clashes on the border between Kosovo and Serbia

Clashes on the border between Kosovo and Serbia

Disturbing reports poured in throughout the evening: Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo reached a new and dangerous level on Sunday. It was especially unstable in northern Kosovo, where mainly Serbs live. According to the Kosovo police, unknown persons fired shots at the Kosovar officers, but there were no injuries. Video footage showed the air raid sirens sounding in the city of Mitrovica. Two border posts – Jarenje and Brncak: were closed by the police after hard-line Serbs blocked the road to the border posts. A bridge in the north of Mitrovica was closed and there were roadblocks.

On Sunday evening, the Serbian Ministry of Defense said that there had been no direct armed conflict between the two countries. “Our army did not cross the border into Kosovo and did not enter the territory of Kosovo. It is misinformation that is deliberately spread in Kosovo.”

Number plates must be changed when crossing the border between Kosovo and Serbia. © AP

license plate

Kosovo and Serbia have been at odds for some time. The number plate issue sparked mutual discontent. Motorists in Kosovo have had to put temporary number plates on their cars when entering Serbia for 11 years because Serbia does not recognize Kosovo license plates – on which are written “RKS” (Republic of Kosovo). Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent country.

In response, Kosovo has now passed a similar law: Serbs must also exchange their number plates from Monday 1 August if they want to enter Kosovo. They must also provide additional documents if they still wish to travel to Kosovo and exchange Serbian identity documents with ones from Kosovo.

“There are reasons for grave concern,” Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Silakovic said. Kosovo wants to create hell in the coming days. Albin Corti (Prime Minister of Kosovo, ed.) puts us in a complex situation that could lead to an outright crisis with unforeseen consequences.”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in a speech on Sunday evening that the situation in Kosovo has “never been this difficult” for Serbia and Serbs living in Kosovo. “It’s boiling,” said Vucic, who also spoke of “lies and misinformation.” He thanked the Serbs in Kosovo for keeping their names, for their “restraint and courage” and their support for Serbia.

According to the Serbian president, they are facing “the most difficult political battle ahead”. All we have to do is keep the peace. Everything they did shows how prepared they are to attack Serbia.” He added that “Serbia will win.” Vucic stressed that they are “working to calm everything down” and “pray for peace,” but they will not give up.

delay

The Prime Minister of Kosovo announced in a statement on Twitter at night from Sunday to Monday that Kosovo is ready to postpone the new rules regarding identity documents and registration plates for Serbs for a month, if the Serbs impose a blockade on the north. of the country to be abolished.

According to the Kosovo government, the purpose of the siege and shooting operations is to “destabilize Kosovo and threaten the peace and security of our citizens and our country.” “Several acts of aggression occurred this afternoon and evening with the encouragement and plans of the authorities in Belgrade,” Kurti said in a statement.

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Prime Minister, President Fjusa Usmani and several deputy prime ministers had contacts with representatives of the United States and Europe in the country on Sunday. “As a result, the government of Kosovo undertakes to postpone the implementation of the two decisions (…) until September 1, 2022, as from Monday, August 1, all barriers will be removed and full freedom of movement on all roads will be restored in northern Kosovo.”

European Union

The issue is very sensitive, because both Serbia and Kosovo want to join the European Union in due course. At the same time, Serbia is the main ally of Russian President Putin in the Balkans. President Vucic refuses to join Serbia in the European sanctions against Russia.

A member of parliament from the Serbian Progressive Party of Paris (SNS), Serbia’s largest party, wrote on Twitter on Sunday that “the time has come to smear the Balkans,” a term reminiscent of Putin’s words about the war in Ukraine.

Civil war

Kosovo fought a bloody civil war separate from Serbia in 1998 and 1999 and gained independence in 2008. But Serbia has never recognized this independence: it still considers Kosovo, inhabited almost exclusively by Albanians today, as the cradle of the Serbian nation and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Tensions between neighboring countries escalate regularly. This is why a NATO peacekeeping mission – KFOR – is active in the region.

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The Kosovo Force (Pristina Kosovo) says in a press release distributed via Twitter that it is ready to intervene if necessary. “The general situation in the northern municipalities of Kosovo is tense, and the NATO-led Kosovo Force Mission is monitoring the situation closely and preparing to intervene if stability is threatened,” she added. “KFOR will take all necessary measures to maintain a secure environment in Kosovo at all times, in line with the mandate of the United Nations.”

According to Serbian President Vucic, Military Commander Milan Moiselovic held a meeting with the Commander of the International Security Force in Kosovo on Sunday evening, who will also speak with Kosovo Minister Goran Rakic. We have asked all international representatives to do everything possible. “It is important that the dialogue continues and that we try to resolve things peacefully,” Vucic said.

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