Hundreds at border roadblocks – NATO forces increase patrols
Tensions have risen between Serbia and Kosovo since Kosovo banned cars with Serbian license plates from crossing the border.
The decision was met with protests and roadblocks by Kosovo Serbs, and two government offices were attacked. This weekend, Serbian fighter jets were seen in the border areas.
The situation between the two countries is now described as the worst in several years.
The mood on the border between the two countries deteriorated significantly last week. Then the new rule started from Kosovo The authorities must apply: registration plates on Serbian vehicles must be temporarily removed when entering the country; AP reports.
Specially equipped riot police in armored vehicles were stationed at the border to remove the banners.
The decision led to anger and major protests among Kosovo Serbs. Hundreds went to the border in cars and trucks, blocking roads at border crossings. Many were seen waving the Serbian flag.
A government building was lit on fire
According to the Associated Press, police fired tear gas at the protesters, but they did not have to give way.
“They are just trying to salvage their human right to move freely,” Igor Simic, a Kosovo Serb politician, said of the protests.
Two government buildings were said to have been attacked during the riots, according to Kosovo, Reuters writes. A building was set on fire in the town of Zubin Potok and two grenades – which did not explode – were thrown at a building in Zvikan.
This weekend, Serbian fighter jets were seen near the border, chanted in protest by Kosovo Serbs. Serbia It reinforced its military presence with both soldiers and four armored vehicles near the border crossing in the village of Jarinje, TT writes.
The President: The criminal case
Both countries accuse each other of escalating the conflict. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has called the new law a “criminal act” and demands the withdrawal of special police from the border.
– We believe that any statement equal to the guilt of Belgrade and Pristina is inappropriate. The only solution, Vucic said, is the withdrawal of all forces, and then we can go to Brussels and discuss everything and possibly reach an agreement.
According to the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, the rule is a response to Serbia’s treatment of vehicles registered in Kosovo.
– It is clear that Serbia wants to militarize and escalate the situation. They take Russian-made helicopters and planes near the border. During a press conference, Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that Serbia is provoking a serious international conflict.
The outside world is now trying to get both countries to reduce tensions, which many believe are the worst in many years. NATO – which still has peacekeepers remaining in the region – has expanded its patrols in the north as well as throughout Kosovo. The United States and the European Union are also calling for calm.
This happens after a week of mounting unrest in the region.
It is important to reduce tensions, restore a peaceful atmosphere and allow freedom of movement. We are ready to facilitate talks, Miroslav Lajcak, EU Special Envoy for Kosovo – Serbian Dialogue wrote on Twitter.
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