By Petrit Collaku
The Kosovo government is expected to deploy some of its police force to two checkpoints in the north of Kosovo tomorrow as part of an agreed arrangement with the EU rule of law mission and NATO peacekeeping troops.
In a press conference held on Wednesday, Kosovo’s PM Hashim Thaci outlined the government’s operational plan for the north, which is being supported by EU rule-of-law mission, EULEX and KFOR.
According to the government’s plan, Kosovo and EULEX border police will be present at Gate 1 in Jarinje for the control of the non-commercial vehicles until the border becomes fully operational. Vehicles carrying commercial goods without excise will be processed at Gate 31 in Brnjak and vehicles carrying goods with excise – such as alcohol and tobacco- are to go through Gate 3 in Merdare, which is in the east of Kosovo.
Gate 1 in Jarinje was burned down by local Serbs two days after Kosovo’s government sent special police to take over this checkpoint and Gate 31 in July so as to enforce a trade ban on goods from Serbia. Jarinje and Brnjak are both located in the north of Kosovo, an area which is predominantly populated by Serbs who do not recognise Kosovo as an independent country and consider themselves part of neighbouring Serbia.
After the Jarinje checkpoint was torched, a significant diplomatic effort ensued resulting in a temporary agreement whereby only peacekeeping troops would be stationed at the two border points until early September.
Thaci said that Kosovo authorities would have commanding authority at Gates 1 and 31 but would be supervised by EULEX. He added that the plan had been prepared in consultation with the implementation of a new agreement reached on custom stamps and the free movement of goods between Kosovo and Serbia.
The situation in the north of Kosovo is currently calm although some transport routes have been blocked, including one bridge in Mitrovica.
The Prime Minister also claimed Belgrade was preparing illegal and criminal structures in the north to cause violence and hinder legitimate authorities for the implementation of the border control in the north.
“I am convinced and that those attempts will be useless, as the useless attempts of Serbia to partition northern part of Kosovo,” Thaci said.