Following tensions on the Serbia-Kosovo border, Pristina has pledged to postpone a controversial measure on planned border controls for the time being. In cooperation with international allies, his government promises to suspend the implementation of the measures for 30 days, Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Twitter. The prerequisite is that all barricades are removed and complete freedom of movement restored.
The government condemned "the blockade of roads in northern Kosovo" and the firing of shots by armed persons, it said in a statement. Pristina blamed Belgrade for "aggressive actions" throughout the afternoon and evening.
barricades and gunfire
Militant Serbs erected barricades on Sunday in the predominantly Serb-populated north of Kosovo. Unknown persons also fired shots in the direction of Kosovan police officers, but no one was injured, the police in Pristina said.
The tensions arose because the Kosovan authorities at the border crossings no longer wanted to recognize Serbian identity documents from midnight. Serbs with such papers have to have a provisional document issued at the border. According to the Kosovan interpretation, this is a measure based on reciprocity. For a long time now, Kosovan citizens have had to have a provisional document issued when they cross the border into Serbia because the Serbian authorities do not recognize the Kosovar papers. In addition, new rules should apply to the number plates of car owners.
Kurti and the political leadership have kept in touch with US and European representatives and have promised to postpone the start of the planned measures in border traffic until September 1st, the government statement said.
The security situation in northern Kosovo was tense, the NATO mission KFOR announced on Sunday evening. She is monitoring the situation closely and, in accordance with her mandate, is "ready to intervene if stability is threatened." The NATO-led mission focuses every day on guaranteeing a safe environment and freedom of movement for all people in Kosovo.
Kosovo, now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, used to belong to Serbia. In 2008 it declared itself independent. Serbia does not recognize the statehood of Kosovo and claims its territory for itself. The Bundeswehr has also been stationed in Kosovo since 1999 as part of the international mission.