Current Tensions At Boiling Point Between Serbia & Kosovo
KOSOVO, EASTERN EUROPE - On July 31st, Serbs blocked roads that were located close to high-level border crossings with its neighbor Kosovo. On August 1st, new regulations in Kosovo, regarding ID documentation and license plates issued in Serbia were to come into force. The mood on the border has increased ever since. There have also been reported sightings of NATO peacekeeping forces flying in northern Kosovo.
The new law stated that people going to Kosovo from Serbia would have their Serbian-issued documents exchanged for new entry-exit identification documents which will be issued by Kosovo and valid for only 3 months. This is a policy that is identical to one already imposed in Serbia for travelers visiting from Kosovo.
Also to begin on August 1st is a new license-plate law that would ban Ethnic Serbs, in northern Kosovo, from utilizing a Serbian made license-plate, which has taken place since the war in 1999. The plates have always been regarded as illegal but were tolerated in the northern areas which contain Serbian majorities.
The dispute, which had originally begun in the fall of 2021, when Kosovar officials began ordering all travelers entering Kosovo from Serbia to use a temporary printed license plate that had a 60-day validity. This was in response to ethnic Serbs utilizing the plates made in Serbia.
Kosovo police subsequently closed all border crossings in Brnjak & Jarinje for motorized vehicles due to protestors blockading the streets, earlier this evening. Kosovo in response, sent in Kosovar police to de-escalate the situation, all the while Serbia sent military jets and helicopters to the border, which began low flight maneuvers, buzzing the border in a show-of-force response. Kosovo has since delayed the implementation of their new license-plate regulation to September 1st and grant a 60 day grace period in hopes of de-escalating the situation.
In a long-standing rule, Serbia, and her allies such as Russia & China, have never acknowledged Kosovo's independence, or its rights to impose and enforce any laws and regulations, though most western countries do. In fact, the European Union has tried for the last 10 years to get the 2 countries to open a dialogue, but all efforts have failed.
Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti has stated that Kosovo's application to the European Union will be submitted before the end of 2022, even though tensions have begun to boil again between Kosovo and Serbia, which is also applying for EU admittance.
In a tweet from Mark Urban, diplomatic & defense editor for BBC Newsnight, he stated these 2 tweets:
"Tensions are very high currently between Serbia & Kosovo, with reports of barricades going up in Serb areas of the province and clashes. It's an evolving situation tonight but its possible that Serbia has upped the ante as part of a geopolitical move coordinated with Russia." Twitter
"NATO has described the situation as tense, notes it is ready to intervene 'if' stability is jeopardized and restates its commitment to political process between Kosovo and Serbia." Twitter
Earlier today, police reported gunshots from the direction of police, but no one was reported as wounded. It was also stated that travelers that were passing by were assaulted as well by protestors, as well as attacks on vehicles. Air raid sirens have also been activated in the town of North Mitrovica, which is inhabited mainly by Serbians.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, has blamed the esclating situation on what she termed as "groundless discriminatory rules imposed by Kosovo.
Described by the NATO mission KFOR, the situation is intense and they are prepared to intervene, according to DW.
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