ISSN 2330-717X

Kosovo Hardliners Protest Serbia Customs Deal

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By Petrit Collaku

Police arrested more than 30 activists of the nationalist Self-determination movement on Saturday, including two MPs, protesting against a customs agreement reached in Brussels between Belgrade and Pristina.

Protesters of the nationalist Self-determination movement on Saturday ambushed Edita Tahiri, Kosovo’s head of dialogue with Serbia, at the airport after she arrived back from Brussels.

Protesters threw tomatoes and flattened one of the tyres of the vehicle transporting Tahiri after she ended a press conference, at which she presented details of Kosovo’s EU-mediated agreement with Serbia on custom stamps and cadastral documents.

Kosovo
Kosovo

On Friday, after the end of the sixth round of Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, the two sides agreed to a wording for Kosovo customs stamps that will allow Kosovo to export goods to Serbia for the first time since it declared independence in February 2008.

Serbia has now agreed to accept goods marked “Kosovo Customs”, while Kosovo has agreed to abandon labels including state emblems, coats of arms, the Kosovo flag, or use of the word “republic”.

Special police moved in an arrested the activists after they tried to block the road from Pristina airport.

The movement, known in Albanian as Vetevendosje, said the rotten tomatoes hurled at Tahiri’s vehicle symbolized the quality of the deal she had reached with Serbia.

“The agreement is rotten and is gradually destroying the Republic of Kosovo,” the website of Self-determination reads.

The movement also claimed that police acted brutally during the arrests. More than 30 activists continue to be held. Two of them, both MPs, were released later that day.

Kosovo’s second biggest opposition party, Self-determination opposed dialogue with Serbia from the start, arguing that dialogue could only harm the new country.

The movement said the agreement on custom stamps also “confirmed the retreat of [Prime Minister] Hashim Thaci from the north”.

This was a referrance to the botched police operation in July that was aimed at taking control of northern border points in Serb-run north of Kosovo.

Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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