Serbian Trucks blocked the Border with Kosovo - KFOR called for Negotiations

Southeast Europe | June 20, 2023, Tuesday // 12:56|  views

Truck drivers with Serbian registration, who have been waiting for several days at the border crossings between Serbia and Kosovo due to the Kosovo authorities' ban on the entry of Serbian goods into Kosovo, blocked the Merdare and Jarinje border crossings last night, Serbian media reported.

Truck drivers and local residents have also stopped traffic on the highway between Prokuplje in Serbia and the Merdare border crossing for Kosovo-registered trucks, Serbian public broadcaster RTS reported.

This, according to them, is a reaction to the measures introduced by the Kosovo government, but also support for the Serbs in Northern Kosovo, who since May 26 have been protesting in front of the municipal buildings in Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin against the election of Albanian mayors. On Monday, a protest march was also organized from Mitrovica to Zvecan against the arrests of Serbs by the Kosovo police.

Last week, Serbian police arrested three Kosovo border police officers, in response to which Kosovo banned any products from Serbia, as well as vehicles with Serbian license plates, from entering its territory. This led to a pile-up of trucks with Serbian goods at the border crossings between Serbia and Kosovo.

On Monday evening, the road from Mitrovica to Raska was also blocked, the regional television En1 reported. Cars and buses are allowed, but not trucks with Kosovo registration.

"On the territory of Serbia, near the border points of Jarinje and Merdare, because of the protests, it is not possible for buses and trucks to cross into Kosovo. And it is not certain that cars can pass," the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The ministry advises citizens to refrain from traveling through these border crossings, using the Mutivoda, Bela Zemlya checkpoints or crossing through North Macedonia if they are already in the territory of Serbia and want to return to Kosovo.

Meanwhile, on Monday, the head of the NATO peacekeeping forces in Kosovo - KFOR, Gen. Angelo Michele Ristuccia called on Pristina and Belgrade to start negotiations and stop their "useless rhetoric", reported AFP.

"I again call on both sides to avoid unnecessary rhetoric and respond to this challenge by returning to the negotiating table, which is the only way to resolve the situation," he told journalists at KFOR headquarters in Pristina.

Earlier, a spokesman for the European Commission said the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo had not responded to an invitation by the EU's high representative for foreign and security policy, Josep Borrell, to a crisis meeting in Brussels this week. He hinted that the lack of desire for dialogue will have consequences on the two countries' chances of EU membership and pointed out that this will be the responsibility of President Vucic and Prime Minister Kurti, to whom the European invitation is addressed.

Tensions between the two neighboring countries flared after four ethnic Albanian mayors were elected in April's local elections in predominantly ethnic Serb northern Kosovo. This became possible after the Serbian community boycotted the elections and only the representatives of the Albanian minority in the region participated in them.

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Tags: Serbian, trucks, KFOR, kosovo


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