Kosovo police have closed two border crossings with Serbia in the north of the country due to unrest. Protesters blocked the Jarinje and Bernjak crossings with trucks over the government’s decision to require Serbs in Kosovo to change their license plates. The implementation of the decision was subsequently postponed.
An air raid siren sounded for three hours in the northern city of Mitrovica. Police said they opened fire on Kosovar police on the border. No one was injured. The border crossings were blocked by trucks loaded with gravel and heavy machinery.
Unrest over new rules to apply to Serbs living in Kosovo from midnight They will have 60 days from Monday to put Kosovar number plates on their cars. All Serbian citizens visiting Kosovo must request an additional document at the border starting Monday to enter the country. Similar rules apply to Kosovo in Serbia.
Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008. About 50,000 Serbs live in the north of Kosovo, who still use Serbian license plates and documents. Kosovo is recognized as an independent state by more than 100 countries, but not by Serbia and Russia.
Due to the unrest, the Kosovo government has now decided to postpone the implementation of the rules for a month. This happened at the initiative of the European Union and the United States, which acted as mediators on Sunday evening. For example, the government of Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurdi hopes to ease tensions between the police and local communities.
We welcome the Kosovo decision to move proceedings to 1 September. We expect all roadblocks to be removed immediately. Open issues should be resolved through EU-linked dialogue and focus on comprehensive normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which is essential for their EU integration paths.
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Issue of number plates is sensitive
This is not the first time there has been unrest surrounding the number plate. Prime Minister Kurdi also wanted to end it last year, but abandoned that decision due to protests. Later there were protests at the same border crossings. Kosovo later deployed special police forces and flew warplanes over the border with Serbia.
NATO-led UN in Kosovo The peacekeeping force (KFOR) calls the situation tense in the north of the country. The peacekeeping force also says it is “ready to intervene if stability is threatened” in line with “our UN mandate”.
The peacekeeping force was established in 1999. Currently, 28 states are participating, with over 4,000 military and civilian peacekeepers deployed.
A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry blamed tensions on Kosovo authorities for imposing “groundlessly discriminatory rules” on Serbs. In Telegram, the spokesman wrote: “We call on Pristina (the capital of Kosovo, ed.) and the US and the EU to stop provocations and respect the rights of Serbs in Kosovo”.