Tensions High On Kosovo-Serbia Border As KFOR Deadline Approaches

KFOR soldiers from Greece at the closed Serbia-Kosovo border crossing of Jarinje, September 30, 2011

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:  Tensions along Kosovo’s northern border with neighboring Serbia are high as NATO forces have announced they will dismantle makeshift barricades on roads leading to border crossings.

Local ethnic Serbs erected the barricades in July after the central Kosovo government attempted to seize control of the checkpoints. Ethnic Serbs in the region do not recognize Pristina’s authority or Kosovo’s 2008 unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.

NATO-led KFOR troops have said they will dismantle any barriers left standing on October 18, while local leaders have said they will attempt to peacefully resist any such move.

On October 17, residents of the town of Zubin Potok held a rally they described as a "rehearsal" for resistance. . . .

At a meeting with KFOR commander Erhard Drews on October 15, representatives of the four main municipalities in the region asked Drews to take no action until after an October 19 joint session of the four towns. But KFOR initially set an October 17 deadline for dismantling the barricades and later pushed it back one day to October 18.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said in an interview published by the Belgrade newspaper "Politika" on October 16 that the borders between Serbia and Kosovo must be redrawn if the current tensions are to be resolved peacefully. He called for an international conference to divide Kosovo, saying otherwise the region will be enslaved by a situation that "will for years eat away like a cancer at our mutual relations and the general situation in the Balkans. . . ."

Meanwhile, in recent weeks numerous additional roads have been quietly constructed between Serbia and northern Kosovo. One by one, these new crossing points have been shut off by KFOR forces.  (photo: KFOR)

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