When the Serbs went to the barricades and shots were fired, Kosovo's government caved in

After tensions on the border between Serbia and Kosovo, the Kosovan government has announced that it will postpone a controversial measure on planned border controls for the time being.

When the Serbs went to the barricades and shots were fired, Kosovo's government caved in

After tensions on the border between Serbia and Kosovo, the Kosovan government has announced that it will 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 on Sunday night. 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.

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 late on Sunday evening.

The tensions arose because the Kosovan authorities no longer wanted to recognize Serbian identity documents at the border crossings from Monday (00:00). Serbs with such papers should have had 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. Kosovo, now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, once belonged to Serbia. In 2008 it declared itself independent. Serbia does not recognize the statehood of Kosovo and claims its territory for itself.

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 Saturday evening. She is monitoring the situation closely and, according to 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.

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