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Serbs put up new roadblocks as tensions soar in Kosovo

Serbs put up new roadblocks as tensions soar in Kosovo


MITROVICA, Kosovo — Serbs on Tuesday erected extra roadblocks in northern Kosovo and defied worldwide calls for to take away these positioned earlier, a day after Serbia put its troops close to the border on a excessive degree of fight readiness.

The brand new limitations, made from closely loaded vans, have been put up in a single day in Mitrovica, a northern Kosovo city divided between Kosovo Serbs and ethnic Albanians, who symbolize the bulk in Kosovo as a complete.

It was the primary time because the current disaster began that Serbs have blocked streets in one of many most important cities. Till now, barricades had been set on roads resulting in the Kosovo-Serbia border.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has mentioned he ordered the military’s highest state of alert to “shield our individuals (in Kosovo) and protect Serbia.”

He claimed that Pristina is making ready to “assault” Kosovo Serbs within the north of the nation and take away by drive a number of of the roadblocks that Serbs began placing up 18 days in the past to protest the arrest of a former Kosovo Serb police officer.

On Tuesday, Vucic addressed reporters along with Serbian Patriarch Porfirije, who was barred by Kosovo authorities on Monday from coming into Kosovo and visiting a medieval Serb church there earlier than Serbian Orthodox Christmas, which is well known on Jan. 7.

In his standard method, Vucic blasted the West and Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian authorities of plotting collectively to “set off unrest and kill the Serbs” who’re manning the barricades.

“Their intention is to expel Serbia out of Kosovo … with the assistance of their brokers in Belgrade,” he mentioned, apparently referring to the uncommon opposition and impartial media, that are crucial of his dealing with of the Kosovo disaster and his more and more autocratic insurance policies.

However, he mentioned that he’s at present negotiating with European Union and U.S. mediators “on preserving peace and discovering a compromise answer” for the present disaster.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Tuesday refused to touch upon claims that Serbia had despatched into Kosovo quite a few armed males who’re in all probability manning the barricades.

“I can’t talk about that with you,” she mentioned when requested by a reporter if she is aware of whether or not “Serbia’s armed forces” have been at present current in Kosovo.

Kosovo officers have accused Vucic of utilizing Serbia’s state media to fire up hassle and set off incidents that might act as a pretext for an armed intervention within the former Serbian province.

Petar Petkovic, a Serbian authorities official in control of contacts with Kosovo Serbs, advised Serbian state tv RTS that the fight readiness of Serb troops was launched as a result of Kosovo had carried out the identical factor. Kosovo officers have denied that the nation has raised its safety alert ranges.

Petkovic claimed that closely armed Kosovo items wish to assault Kosovo Serbs, together with “girls, the aged, youngsters, males. Our individuals who on the barricades are simply defending the best to dwell.”

Kosovo has requested NATO-led peacekeepers stationed there to take away the limitations and hinted that Pristina’s forces will do it if the KFOR drive doesn’t react. About 4,000 NATO-led peacekeepers have been stationed in Kosovo because the 1999 warfare, which ended with Belgrade dropping management over the territory.

Any Serbian armed intervention in Kosovo would possible end in a conflict with NATO forces and would imply a significant escalation of tensions within the Balkans, that are nonetheless reeling from the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia within the Nineteen Nineties.

Tensions between Kosovo, which declared independence after a warfare in 2008, and Serbia have reached their peak over the previous month. Western makes an attempt to achieve a negotiated settlement have failed, with Serbia refusing to acknowledge Kosovo’s statehood.

KFOR and the EU have each requested Pristina and Belgrade to point out restraint and keep away from provocations.

Kosovo stays a possible flashpoint within the Balkans years after the 1998-99 Kosovo warfare that ended with a NATO intervention that pushed Serbian troops out of the previous Serbian province.

Dusan Stojanovic reported from Belgrade, Serbia.



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