July 13, 2024

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Kosovo Serbs block roads leading to Serbian border

Kosovo Serbs block roads leading to Serbian border

Roadblocks leading to Serbia were set on fire Sunday in the north of the country in protest against the government’s border policy, Kosovo police said.

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No one was injured in the shooting, according to a police report.

Both intersections were closed to traffic.

On Sunday evening, hundreds of Kosovo Serbs gathered trucks, tankers and other heavy vehicles on the roads leading to the Jarinje and Branjak intersections, an AFP journalist noted.

A crowd then settled around the barricades, intending to spend the night there.

Starting Monday, anyone entering Kosovo with a Serbian identity card will have to replace it with a temporary document during their stay in the country, according to a decision by the Pristina government.

In addition, vehicles belonging to Kosovo Serbs with registration plates issued in Serbia must change to Republic of Kosovo plates within two months.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Albin Kurdi made it clear that the move was mutual, with Serbia, which does not recognize the independence of its former province with an Albanian majority declared in 2008.

Kosovo Serbs do not recognize Pristina’s authority or Kosovo’s independence, and remain loyal to Belgrade, on whom they are financially dependent.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, in a speech to the nation on Sunday, said the situation in Kosovo had “never been more complicated” for Serbia and the Serbs living there.

“The atmosphere is boiling over,” Vucic said, adding that “Serbia will win” if the Serbs are attacked.

For his part, Albin Kurdi said Mr. Vucic accused him of fomenting “trouble.”

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“The next hours, next days and next weeks will be difficult and complicated,” the Kosovar president wrote on Facebook.

Last September, northern Kosovo was the scene of intense tensions after Pristina’s decision to ban Serbian license plates on its border, marred by daily demonstrations and characterized by traffic blockades at two border crossings.