October 19, 2011
For nearly three months, Serbs have been blocking main roads in northern Kosovo to stop the country’s ethnic Albanian leadership from extending their control over the part of Kosovo populated mostly by ethnic Serbs. Serbs reject Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.
NATO-led troops in Kosovo have warned the Serbs to lift the blockade. The peacekeepers say they want to establish freedom of movement in the region and reopen supply routes for their troops. Kosovo Serb leaders are likely to remain defiant Wednesday.
by VedatXhymshiti Wednesday, October 19, 2011 – Mitrovica, Kosovo
KFOR commander Erhard Drews, left, said roadblocks would
be removed unless the Serbs lifted them [AFP]
The deputies of four Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo have adopted conclusions according to which they authorize the mayors of these municipalities to find, in talks with KFOR, a solution for partial removal of barricades and allowing passage for convoys of international forces for delivering supplies.
Six conclusions were adopted, which condemn use of force, requests return to negotiations under UN auspices, request re-activation of UNMIK and continuation of dialogue with KFOR. As well as the request of allowing to return a considerable number of Serbian state military and police forces.
The Zubin Potok Mayor Stevo Bozovic has stated that the deputies discussed partial removal of barricades, and KFOR’s passage at certain times with a certain number of soldiers. The Zvecan Mayor Dobroslav Dobric added that the main request of the deputies of all four municipalities was to remove the cause for placing barricades – presence of Pristina officials at the Brnjak and Jarinje administrative crossings.
According to him, the deputies request KFOR to return Kosovo customs and police officials from the crossings as it had brought them there, stating that the barricades will be removed straight away. Following this session, the municipal representatives took off for a meeting with KFOR officials to whom they will convey the conclusions from the meeting in Zubin Potok and discuss them together.
A pedestrian walks over the gravel barricade on the main
bridge of the ethnicallt divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo.
However, local Serbs later accused KFOR of derailing negotiations by insisting EULEX vehicles also be allowed to reach the border. The Serbs fear EULEX will escort customs officials from Pristina to take over the border crossings.
“KFOR wants to resolve this by violence and it will be responsible for new developments,” said Radenko Nedeljkovic, the head of Mitrovica county.
Serbs have also asked Belgrade to end its European Union-sponsored talks with the Kosovo government in Pristina over practical issues such as flow of people and goods, ownership issues, energy supplies and travel documents.
However, Mitrovica remains a never-ending conflict story, barricades remains in northern Kosovo, but also stances such as “they will be removed” keep remaining printed in online and printing in Kosovar and Serbian broad news agencies.
Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999 following a 78-day NATO bombardment to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanian civilians by Serbian forces in a two-year counter-insurgency war.
More than 80 countries, including the United States and most of the European Union, have recognised the new country.