- Third major border crossing closed Wednesday
- Serbs in northern Kosovo resist what they see as anti-Serbs
- In 2008, Kosovo declared independence with the support of Western powers.
MITROVIKA, Kosovo (Reuters) – Kosovar Serbs, who have blocked roads in northern Kosovo for 19 days, will remove roadblocks from Thursday morning, bowing to calls by the United States and the European Union to ease tensions. Agreed to start.
Serbian President Alexander Vucic, who met with Serbs from northern Kosovar in the Serbian town of Raska, said the process of removing the barricades would begin Thursday morning.
“This is a long process and it will take some time,” Vucic said.
He also said that the United States and the European Union, which broker negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina to settle outstanding bilateral issues, have ensured that the Serbs who set up the barricades would not be prosecuted. added.
The removal of the barricades is expected to ease tensions between Belgrade and Pristina.
For more than two decades, Kosovo has been a source of tension between pro-independence Western powers and Russia, which supports Serbia in its attempts to block Kosovo’s accession to international organizations, including the United Nations.
The US, NATO and the European Union urged maximum restraint as authorities closed a third border crossing in northern Kosovo on Wednesday, raising tensions with local Serbs over independence in 2008.
NATO’s mandate in Kosovo, KFOR, said it supported dialogue between all parties to defuse tensions. Includes violent conflict.
Serbia put its military on high alert on Monday.
The Kremlin denied the Kosovo Interior Minister’s allegations that Russia was destabilizing Kosovo by influencing Serbia, saying Serbia was defending the rights of Serbs.
A spokesman for the Pristina Basic Court told Reuters the former Kosovar Serb policeman, whose arrest sparked violent protests by Kosovo’s Serb minority, was released from custody and placed under house arrest following a request from the Public Prosecutor’s Office. said.
Dejan Pantic was arrested on December 10th for assaulting a police officer on duty. Since then, the Serbs in northern Kosovo have engaged in a shootout with the police and demanded his release, causing him to block more than 10 roads.
The court’s ruling angered Kosovar government officials, including Prime Minister Alvin Kurti and Minister of Justice Albrena Hashou.
“I don’t know how to make sense of it, how someone charged with a serious crime related to terrorism could be put under house arrest.
“I’m very curious who the prosecutor who made this request and who the preliminary proceedings judge approved it,” Curti said.
Pantic said Pristina will implement a law requiring Serbs to destroy Serb-issued vehicle license plates dating back to the 1998-99 guerrilla uprising that led to Kosovo’s independence. He was one of many Serbs who later left the police and other agencies.
Serbs in northern Kosovo, who they believe are still part of Serbia, are resisting any movement they deem anti-Serbs.
Two border crossings between Serbia and Kosovo were closed on December 10, while Merdare, the third largest border crossing for road freight, was closed on Wednesday to work elsewhere in Europe. Movement of Kosovars to return home for vacation was blocked.
About 50,000 Serbs living in northern Kosovo refuse to recognize Pristina’s government or Kosovo as a separate country. They have the support of many Serbs in Serbia and its government.
Albanian-majority Kosovo declared independence with Western support after the 1998-99 war in which NATO intervened to protect ethnic Albanians.
Reported by Fatos Bytyci. Edited by Ivana Sekularac, Andrew Heavens, Nick Macfie, Barbara Lewis, Himani Sarkar
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