What we know about renewed tensions on the Kosovo-Serbia border

What we know about renewed tensions on the Kosovo-Serbia border

“The atmosphere is boiling” In the words of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic. Tensions escalated between Serbia and Kosovo on Sunday, July 31, at the border between the two countries. Kosovo police say they were shot dead, roadblocks to Serbia have been erected and traffic has been banned at two border crossings in northern Kosovo. These clashes come after months of violent demonstrations that lasted for several weeks. To challenge the border policy of the Kosovo government. How can this latest escalation be explained? Franceinfo summarizes what we know about the situation.

“Tense” situation in the cities of northern Kosovo

“The security situation in the municipalities of northern Kosovo is tense”Explanation of NATO’s mission in Kosovo (KFOR). In a press release published on Sunday evening,. Kosovo police said on Sunday they came under fire in the north of the country, where roadblocks were set up on roads to Serbia in protest against the government’s border policy. Police said the shots did not cause any injuries.

The two crossings are closed to traffic. Sunday evening, hundreds of Kosovo Serbs Residents of Kosovo do not recognize the authority of the Government of Kosovo Trucks, tanks and other heavy vehicles crowded the roads to the two crossing points of Yaringi in the town of Leposavic and Brncak, two border posts in the north of the country. Then a crowd settled around the barricades, with the professed intention of spending the night there. Siren sounds can also be heard for more than three hours In the city of MitrovicaIn the north of the country, according to Reuters.

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Tensions are back around the new entry rules

At the root of these tensions: the new rules for entering Kosovo, which were due to take effect on Monday, which stipulate that anyone entering the country with a Serbian ID must have a temporary document during their stay. In this regard, Prime Minister Albin Kurti specified that it is a measure of reciprocity in the face of Serbia’s decision to demand reciprocity from Kosovar residents entering its territory.

The Kosovo government also gave Kosovo Serbs two months to replace the Serbian license plates of their cars with those of the Republic of Kosovo.

Deferred bases initiated by Washington

And in the same evening, the Kosovo government finally decided to postpone the entry into force of these new rules on the border with Serbia for a month. They will finally be applied from 1 September.

This postponement was announced after a meeting with the US ambassador to Kosovo, Jeffrey Honfer. The decision was welcomed by the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, on Twitter, calling for Immediate removal of all roadblocks..

A disputed border policy for several months

The recent escalation of tensions points to a border policy of the Kosovo government that was already challenged a few months ago. In September 2021, northern Kosovo was the scene of intense tensions and daily demonstrations when the government in Pristina – the country’s capital – decided for the first time to ban Serbian license plates on its territory.

The Kosovo authorities then deployed special police forces to enforce the aforementioned law, and set fire to the powder in the area. Traffic was blocked in particular at two border posts while many Serbs blocked roads to Kosovo and set fire to several buildings including a customs post. NATO responded to these tensions By increasing its presence in the regionFrance 24 explained.

Serbia has never recognized Kosovo’s independence since its unilateral declaration in 2008. Likewise, Kosovar Serbs remain loyal to Belgrade, on which they depend financially.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in an address to the nation on Sunday that the situation in Kosovo did not happen ‘It was never complicated’ For Serbia and Serbs who live there. “It’s boiling”He continued, adding that Serbia will win. If the Serbs were attacked. For his part, Albin Kurti accused the Serbian President of the shooting “problem”.

NATO is ready to intervene in the region

Faced with this escalation, the NATO mission responsible for ensuring stability in the region since 1999, said in a press statement issued on Sunday evening, that it was ready to intervene if necessary. The coalition noted its strong presence at the site and indicated that it was in contact with representatives of the Kosovo authorities and the Serbian Ministry of Defense.

She also made it clear that she nevertheless continued to do so “Full support for the normalization process between Pristina and Belgrade” called “All parties must continue negotiations”. In 2011, the two countries engaged in dialogue to try to resolve the obstacles they face in light of Serbia’s possible future accession to the European Union, but since then no significant progress has been observed.

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