Protesting Serbs in northern Kosovo agree to remove barricades | Conflict News

Serb protesters have agreed to begin removal barricades and end their blockade Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that roads will be built in northern Kosovo.

Vucic, who met Serbs from northern Kosovo in the Serbian town of Raska, said the process of removing barricades that had blocked roads for 19 days, would begin on Thursday morning.

“The removal of the barricades will begin,” Vucic said late Wednesday.

“This is not a simple process and cannot be completed in two hours as some people imagine. But within 24 to 48 hours, the barrier will be removed. But the distrust is not erased,” he said.

“Those who are playing with [the] the existence of the Serbs in Kosovo must know that, just as we do not allow it now, we will not allow it in the future either.”

He added that the European Union and the United States, which are mediating negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina to resolve the tense dispute, have ensured that none of the barricades Serbs will indicted.

The EU and the United States said in a joint statement on Wednesday that they welcomed “the assurances from the Kosovo leadership confirming that no list of Kosovo Serb nationals has been arrested or prosecuted for the protests.” / moderate barrier”.

“At the same time, the rule of law must be respected, and any form of violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the statement added.

Serbian state media reported that Vucic had traveled to the border with Kosovo to talk to Kosovo Serbs in an attempt to convince them to end the blockade.

“Come to think of it… what would we gain if the fence remained? I can tell you 500 things we could get if they were removed,” Vucic said at the meeting, state-controlled public broadcaster RTS reported.

Serbia has booked The army is on the highest alert on Monday as the situation in northern Kosovo seemed to spiral out of control with Kosovo on Wednesday closing its largest border crossing into Serbian territory.

On Tuesday night, dozens of protesters on the Serbian side of the border used trucks and tractors to block traffic leading to Merdare, the largest crossing between the neighboring countries. The move forced Kosovo police to close the site on Wednesday.

“Such illegal blockade has prevented the free movement and circulation of people and goods, therefore we invite our citizens and compatriots to use other border points for circulation, a statement from the Kosovo police said.

Pristina has asked NATO-led peacekeepers to clear barricades erected on Kosovo soil, adding that their own forces are also capable of removing protesters.

The EU and the US have expressed concern about the situation and called for an immediate de-escalation, saying they are working with Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti to find a political solution to one of the outbreaks. worst in years among the Balkan neighbours.

“We urge everyone to exercise maximum restraint, take immediate action to unconditionally de-escalate the situation and refrain from acts of provocation, intimidation or intimidation,” they said in a joint statement. .

Earlier on Wednesday, a former Kosovo Serb policeman who was arrested on December 10 sparked violent protests by the Serb minority in Kosovo – including a road blockade – was released and placed under house arrest after a request from the prosecutor’s office, a spokeswoman for Pristina Basic Court told Reuters.

Dejan Pantic was arrested for assaulting a serving police officer. The court’s decision angered Kosovo government officials, including Prime Minister Kurti and Justice Minister Albulena Haxhiu.

“I am very curious to know who is the prosecutor who made this request, who is the judge of the preliminary proceedings that approved it,” Kurti said.

For more than 20 years, Kosovo has been a source of tension between the West, which supported independence from Serbia in 2008, and Russia, which does not recognize Pristina and has supported Serbia in its efforts to block Kosovo’s membership in the country. global organizations including the United Nations.

However, the Kremlin denied Statement of the Minister of Interior of Kosovo this week that Russia is influencing Serbia’s handling of ethnic tensions to destabilize Kosovo, saying that Serbia is defending the rights of ethnic Serbs.

An estimated 50,000 Serbs live in northern Kosovo, which they believe is still part of Serbia. against any move they consider anti-Serb and refused to recognize the government in Pristina or the status of Kosovo as a separate country. They have the support of many Serbs in Serbia and their government.

Albanian-majority Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, with Western backing, following the 1998-99 war in which NATO intervened against Serbian forces to protect ethnic citizens. Albanian.

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