Kosovo tightens controls on its border with Serbia

by Cristian Florescu

Prime Minister Albin Kurti has requested the immediate release of three detainees after the arrest of Kosovo policemen by Serbian forces. As a precaution, Kosovo has increased its border controls with Serbia.

Both Belgrade and Pristina provided conflicting accounts of the arrest of the three policemen, with each side alleging that the other had unlawfully crossed the border.

The detentions were the most recent events in a series of developments that have increased tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, causing concerns about the possibility of renewed violence between the former wartime adversaries.

At the Merdare border crossing, the largest one between Kosovo and Serbia, a significant queue of trucks was observed on Thursday morning due to Kosovo’s recent decision to prohibit trucks with Serbian license plates and Serbian goods from entering its territory.

According to a Reuters reporter, there were small vehicles with Serbian license plates that crossed the border, even though the government had previously stated that all vehicles, including cars, would be prohibited.

Kurti stated at a press conference on Thursday that, in light of security concerns, border controls with Serbia have been tightened as a precautionary measure.

Kurti respectfully urges for the immediate release of the three kidnapped police officers and kindly requests that the international community condemn Serbia’s act of aggression.

The Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who stated that the three Kosovo policemen were detained in a location far within Serbian territory, had a meeting with the ambassadors of the Quint group, consisting of the United States, Italy, France, Germany, and Britain.

During the meeting, I had a conversation with representatives of the EU and the Quint group. I politely requested that they utilize their resources to prevent Kurti from instigating any conflicts in the Balkans. This is of utmost importance for the stability of the region.

On Wednesday, the European Union announced that it had implemented punitive measures towards Kurti’s government, raising concerns about their alleged failure to address the broader crisis.

During a press conference in Brussels on Thursday, EU spokesperson Peter Stano stated that the measures implemented were temporary and had the potential to be reversed. However, he emphasized that they were necessary due to the lack of meaningful and decisive steps taken for immediate de-escalation thus far.

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