ISSN 2330-717X

Serbia Readies Declaration On North Kosovo

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By Bojana Barlovac

As tensions continue to mount in the Serb-run enclave of northern Kosovo, the Serbian government has vowed to defuse growing anger over the situation in parliament.

Serbia’s government says it is finalising work on a declaration on the situation in northern Kosovo, which will soon be sent to parliament for a vote, Balkan Insight has learned from the government.

Since October 20, many opposition MPs have been boycotting the work of the parliament, demanding that the government put the situation in the north onto the agenda.

The agitation in Serbia’s parliament continues as tensions in the Serb-run north also grow. On Monday, local Serbs turned back five vehicles belonging to NATO peacekeepers in KFOR as they headed to the Jarinje border crossing.

The vehicles were allowed to pass after KFOR reached an agreement with authorities in the Serb municipality of Zvecan later that day.

Balkan Insight learned from the municipality that the convoy was stopped because KFOR representatives did not have the required permission from the authorities in the Zvecan municipality.

Krstimir Pantic, head of the Serb-run munipality in North Mitrovica, accused KFOR of staging a provocation, as he said KFOR knew they needed permission in order to pass but had failed to get it.

On Friday, after KFOR removed a barricade on the border crossing at Brnjak, local Serbs simply built a bigger one.

Serbs have been blocking roads in the region for six weeks now in protest against attempts by the Albanian-led government in Pristina to take control of border crossings with Serbia. The Serb enclave refuses to recognise the Kosovo government or its proclamation of independence from Serbia, made in 2008.

In a report covering the period of July 16 to October 25, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon voiced concern over the poor security situation in Kosovo.

The report cited 63 reported cases of damage to unoccupied houses as well as 47 reported burglaries and thefts in the north.

“The developments in northern Kosovo during the reporting period serve as a strong reminder that the underlying, unresolved issues constitute a threat to the region’s peace and stability,” the report said.

“I am concerned not only about the deterioration of the security situation on the ground as a result of the recent developments, but also about the deterioration of inter-ethnic relations throughout Kosovo, the polarization of political positions and the widening of the gap between the communities north and south of the Ibar River,” the report added.

The UN Secretary General also said that as long as the standoff over the border crossings remained unresolved, the international community and people on the ground will continue to face the risk of an escalation of tensions and outbreak of violence.

“I call upon Pristina and Belgrade as well as on the communities on the ground to act with restraint and patience and continue to show confidence in dialogue,” Ban added.

The report is to be discussed at a UN Security Council meeting on November 29.

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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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