Kosovo Starts Issuing Extra Documents to Serbian Citizens as Protesters Block Roads

ZUPCE, Kosovo (Reuters) – Kosovo’s authorities on Monday started issuing additional paperwork to Serbian residents crossing into its territory, as Serbs dwelling within the north of the nation who oppose the choice blockaded roads main to two border crossings.

Fourteen years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, some 50,000 Serbs within the north nonetheless use licence plates and paperwork issued by Serbian authorities, refusing to recognise the Pristina authorities and its establishments.

Following tensions on Sunday and consultations with U.S. and EU ambassadors, the federal government mentioned it might postpone till Sept. 1 a choice giving native Serbs 60 days to swap to Kosovo licence plates and requiring additional paperwork to be issued on the border to Serbian residents, together with these dwelling in Kosovo with out native paperwork.

However as gravel-filled vehicles and heavy equipment continued to block roads main to the Brnjak and Jarinje border crossings in northern Kosovo on Monday morning, the federal government started issuing the paperwork on the largest border crossing Merdare.

“This determination will proceed to be applied till all of the barricades are eliminated and the liberty of motion for individuals and items is ensured,” Kosovo’s Inside Minister Xhelal Svecla mentioned.

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NATO-led mission KFOR helicopters flew over the north of Kosovo, which is majority-populated by Serbs and linked directly with Serbia. The Brnjak and Jarinje border crossings remained closed.

Kosovo has been recognised as an independent state by more than 100 countries but not by Serbia or Russia.

A year ago, after local Serbs blocked the same roads in another row over licence plates, Kosovo’s government deployed special police forces and Belgrade flew fighter jets close to the border.

Tensions between the two countries remain high and Kosovo’s fragile peace is maintained by a NATO mission with 3,770 troops on the ground. Italian peacekeepers were visible in and around then northern town of Mitrovica on Sunday.

The two countries committed in 2013 to a dialogue sponsored by the European Union to try to resolve outstanding issues but little progress has been made.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Writing by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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