Kosovo Serbs, STOP NATO mission. NATO STOP press mission.

Follow @vedatxhNATO forces attempted to open the barricade in Rudare and Jegenice and have failed as a result of the additional resistance of the Serbs of northern Kosovo, who have forced the KFOR commander to seek negotiations with local leaders. NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo on Friday offered to meet Serb representatives in order...

NATO forces attempted to open the barricade in Rudare and Jegenice and have failed as a result of the additional resistance of the Serbs of northern Kosovo, who have forced the KFOR commander to seek negotiations with local leaders. NATO-led peacekeepers in Kosovo on Friday offered to meet Serb representatives in order to ease tensions over dismantling Serb-held roadblocks in the north of the breakaway territory.

by Vedat Xhymshiti, Saturday, October 22, 2011 – Mitrovica, Kosovo
 

The media did not inhibit the freedom of movement,
 
they report 
it.” Vedat Xhymshiti

Pictures Courtesy of ©the Independent NewsweeK

“I am ready to meet with the Serb representatives tomorrow in a bid to find a solution to this situation,” German general Erhard Drews, the commander of the NATO-led peacekeepers (KFOR) in Kosovo, told reporters.

On Thursday, clashes erupted as KFOR troops unleashed volleys of tear gas at Serbs trying to stop those dismantling barricades in northern Kosovo near the border with Serbia, leaving dozens needing treatment.

Speaking after a visit to his troops in the village of Zupce, Drews said that the Serbs “should understand that it will be better for them to dismantle the roadblocks by themselves as they (barricades) violate freedom of movement.” “I hope that KFOR will not have to use force,” Drews said through an interpreter.

A cameraman, inhibited to pass by NATO forces
 which are not allowing him to continue to shoot
Serbs gathered in their barricade in Zupce.

Pictures Courtesy of ©the Independent NewsweeK
However, KFOR is talking about the implementation of freedom of movement for all citizens of the country, but north of Kosovo, can only be visited by the Russian and Belgrade media, supported by KFOR forces, Kosovo Albanian reporters are not allowed to pass in northern Kosovo, with the pretext of provoking the situation, since the eruptions of July 25, when the Government of Kosovo tried to extend its control of its territory divided practically since 12 years ago.

But I think when it comes to provoking the situation; perhaps it can be provoked much more by the KFOR forces that have launched a mission to remove the barricades. Reporters are there just to see and report what they see. Given that we as the official media, go on site to see and report. And the decision of NATO forces to prevent the press officials to do their jobs puts in serious doubt the official statements of NATO forces. The question is what is cooking in the north?

Serb official Radenko Nedeljkovic told the reporter by phone that “we are available to KFOR 24 hours a day for discussions because this is the only way we can solve this situation.” Serbs in northern Kosovo erected 16 barricades on the roads leading to two border crossings including Brnjak (Gate #31) after Kosovo authorities said in July they wanted to replace ethnic Serb customs officials at the border with ethnic Albanians.

Pristina said the Serb customs officers were flouting a ban imposed on imports from Serbia as part of a trade dispute with Belgrade.

Around 40,000 Serbs live in northern Kosovo, making up the majority in a number of towns. They refuse to recognize the authority of the ethnic Albanian government in Pristina, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

The security of the Kosovo officials at the disputed border posts is currently guaranteed by KFOR and EULEX, which is mandated to oversee police and customs services.

Drews said he supports the peaceful resolution of the standoff between his troops and hundreds of Serbs manning the roadblocks, which are hampering the freedom of movement in the Serb-controlled region.


Vedat Xhymshiti; is an independent journalist and war correspondent. He has reported on a number of Middle Eastern conflicts from the Arab Spring in 2010 to the current Syrian civil war. He has been published in various media including Der Spiegel, NY Times, TIME, Paris Match, Le Monde ect. He is specialized in International Relations and Diplomacy. Xhymshiti is also a print media critic, a columnist for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, and founder of THEFrontliner.net

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