Wednesday, February 11, 2009

AKI: Serbia, Thousands object to border controls in Kosovo

Kosovska Mitrovica, 10 Feb. (AKI) - Thousands of Kosovo Serbs protested in the northern city of Mitrovica on Tuesday against establishing border controls with Serbia and the formation of the Kosovo Security Force which may be the basis for a future Kosovo army. Up to 10,000 protesters carried Serbian flags and banners reading “No to KSF” and “We won’t give up Kosovo”.

Others carried the flags of Greece and Spain, the two European Union members which haven’t recognised Kosovo independence declared by majority ethnic Albanians a year ago.

A Kosovo Serb leader Radinka Nedeljkovic called on the international community to dissolve the Kosovo Police Service, saying it was an “anti-Serb formation” which “threatened regional stability”.

Nedeljkovic blamed the European Union police and judicial mission in Kosovo (EULEX) for siding with ethnic Albanians, though it was supposed to be neutral.

The mission, consisting of some 2,500 police, judges, prosecutors and customs officers, was deployed in Kosovo last December with Serbia’s consent on the condition that it remained neutral regarding Kosovo status.

But this month, the EULEX started controlling goods entering from Serbia at two northern border crossings at Brnjak and Jarinje and Nedeljkovic complained that EULEX judges were not applying Serbian, but Kosovo laws.

Belgrade is fighting a diplomatic battle to retain Kosovo within its borders. Nedeljkovic said that EULEX was in fact implementing an independence plan forged by former UN negotiator Martti Ahtisaari.

The plan was killed in the UN Security Council by a threat of a Russian veto, but 54 countries, including the United States and 22 EU members, have so far recognised Kosovo independence.

Most of the 100,000 Serbs remaining in Kosovo live in the northern area around Mitrovica. They object to being cut off from Serbia and last year they burned down border crossings and customs houses in Brnjak and Jarinje.

No comments: