NATO to lift roadblocks in Kosovo
PRISTINA - Agence France-Presse
KFOR soldiers in Jarinje Sept. 30. REUTERS photo.
The commander of NATO-led KFOR troops in Kosovo on Oct. 15 said his troops would remove roadblocks near sensitive border crossings if local Serbs fail to do so voluntarily, a statement said.
General Erhard Drews “expects unconditional and permanent access” to the border, NATO-led peacekeepers KFOR said in a statement. If the road blocks were not removed over the weekend “KFOR will do so on Monday, in a peaceful manner, to facilitate the passage of the convoy by engineer vehicles”, the statement said. Earlier, Drews met Serb officials to call for the “unconditional removal” of roadblocks near the border. Drews met representatives of four Serb-majority municipalities in northern Kosovo.
A trade row spilled over into violence in late July when Pristina ordered its security forces to take over two crossings on the border with Serbia to enforce a newly imposed ban on Serbian goods. The ethnic Albanian Kosovo government said the ban was being ignored by ethnic Serb members of Kosovo’s border police. Serbs in northern Kosovo reacted angrily and an ethnic Albanian police officer was killed and four injured in ensuing clashes. NATO troops stepped in when the Jarinje border post was set on fire and bulldozed, apparently by ethnic Serbs. Local Serbs have for weeks been manning 16 barricades blocking the main access roads to the border gates. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 but Serbia still considers the breakaway territory its southern province.