ISSN 2330-717X

North Kosovo Deal Eludes KFOR And Serbia

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By Bojana Barlovac and Zoran Kosanovic

After four hours of talks, Serbia’s Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, the head of Serbia’s team in charge of dialogue with Kosovo, Borislav Stefanovic, and KFOR said that talks had not ended in the expected results and they would resume the following day.

Stefanovic told Balkan Insight that outcome of the talks was bad and that KFOR goes beyond the scope of its mandate.

“Unfortunately, we did not achieve any agreement because KFOR forces are supporting the decisions of the Kosovo government.

“I hope that KFOR will change its stance tomorrow because it is unacceptable for Serbs that customs officers are on border crossings with Serbia,” Stefanovic said.

Kosovo
Kosovo

The crisis erupted in the north on Monday night, when Kosovo special police took over two checkpoints in the Serb-held north in a move to enforce a recent order from Pristina, banning the import of goods from Serbia.

Tensions then escalated again on Wednesday evening after a group of about 50 young Serb men arrived at the Jarinje crossing from Serb-controlled northern Mitrovica at around 7pm, asked the crowd gathered at the border to move away and then demolished and burned infrastructure.

The situation has since calmed down on the Serbia-Kosovo border after KFOR strengthened control of the two checkpoints at Jarinje and Brnjak.

Meanwhile, Serbian media reported that Kosovo police had maltreated two Serbs on the road from Viti to Strpce in southern, government-held Kosovo.

Serbia’s Defence Minister, Dragan Sutanovac, said security had been endangered in the north, and the Serbian government urged all parties to refrain from violence.

Asked who burned down the border crossing at Jarinje on Wednesday, he said it was the work of “young people who are unaware of what this kind of extremism can lead to”.

He added: “I don’t think they came from Serbia and I am deeply convinced that those who have inspired them have their own hidden motives”, Belgrade broadcaster B92 quoted the minister as saying.

Sutanovac said KFOR had the capacity to preserve security but it was difficult to keep everything under control with a few thousand soldiers.

“We have confidence in the international forces and I am convinced that they had no bad intentions,” he said.

“It’s hard to say whether we are entering a period of calm or whether the situation will escalate,” the minister continued.

Serbia has asked for an urgent session of the UN Security Council on the situation in Kosovo. The session behind closed doors is scheduled for 3pm local time in New York.

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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