ISSN 2330-717X

KFOR Fears Kosovo Violence From Either Side

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By Bojana Barlovac

Dragisa Milovic, mayor of Zvecan, in Serb-run northern Kosovo, says the possible escalation of violence in the north concerns everyone living there.

He spoke following a statement by the Commander of KFOR, General Erhard Drews, who said a conflict could flare up either as a result of actions by the Kosovo authorities “as well as certain groups from [Serb-run] northern Kosovo.

“This could happen if the government in Pristina lost patience and tried to establish full authority in the north of Kosovo,” the KFOR Commander stated in an interview published on the German army website.

Groups from northern Kosovo that hoped to benefit from such a situation could also be the ones to initiate a conflict, he added.

Serbs have been manning barricades in North Kosovo for months, protesting against the deployment of Kosovo government officials on the border crossings with Serbia.

On Wednesday, local Serbs massed to stop KFOR peacekeepers from removing a roadblock on the road from Mitrovica to the Serbian border at Jarinje, injuring 21 of them.

Meanwhile, Kosovo Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi has said force may be required to restore freedom of movement and removal of barricades in the north.

“It seems that the roads will not be passable without the use of force, because attacks on troops follow each attempt to remove barricades,” Rexhepi said in Pristina on Friday.

Local Serbs say they will not remove road blocks until Kosovo withdraws officials from the border crossings at Jarinje and Brnjak. They insist that KFOR already has complete freedom of movement.

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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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