Northern Kosovo: A Calmed but Tense territory of Kosovo forgotten by its authorities

The situation in northern Kosovo is calm, but there is tension in the air since KFOR and EULEX are trying to create events, said Head of Mitrovica District Radenko...

The situation in northern Kosovo is calm, but there is tension in the air since KFOR and EULEX are trying to create events, said Head of Mitrovica District Radenko Nedeljkovic. EULEX seeks to have freedom of movement in the north regardless of our clear position that they can have freedom of movement the moment they withdraw support for the establishment of Kosovo institutions, said Nedeljkovic.
Mitrovica, KOSOVO – by Vedat Xhymshiti
| Friday, January 13, 2012 | The IndependenT NewsweeK |
(TIME Photo/Vedat Xhymshiti)
He added that he is very concerned about the decision that KFOR made and that was explained by KFOR team commander for surveillance and communication, Adolf Konrad at yesterday’s regular meeting in Zvecan.
Their intention is that in the future, they allow the import of goods from Serbia up to only three and a half tons capacity, together with the vehicle. This means that only passenger cars and vans can pass, said Radenko Nedeljkovic.
He explained that they were told that from the Kosovo side of the administrative crossing with central Serbia can pass large trucks without control and that everything can be exported.
While answering our questions on how this is possible, “I felt that across from me it was not the KFOR Colonel but the Minister of Trade of the so-called Kosovo government or the president of the Movement “Self-determination” Albin Kurti, because Konrad explained to us that the value of imports from Serbia is much bigger than value of exported goods from Kosovo,” Nedeljkovic told the blog.
The decision was made in Pristina and was only submitted to KFOR to confirm it, confirmed the district administrator and warned that “if this decision will be applied it might cause the deterioration of the situation in northern Kosovo, barricades could be restored and freedom of movement for KFOR could be prevented.
Kosovo PM Hashim Thaci during elections campaign in
Pristina, Kosovo 2010. (Corbis Photo/Vedat Xhymshiti)
However, northern Kosovo is forgotten by Pristina authorities claims the public opinion in Kosovo, this is witnessed since Kosovo oppositional political party “Vetëvendosje” announced it is organizing an anti-government crackdown on Saturday, 14 January which will block the border crossings in ‘Merdare’ and ‘Dheu i Bardhë’.
This action, according to Alma Lama a “Vetëvendosje” MP, will be taken to protect the decision passed by the Kosovo Assembly on economic and political reciprocity steps against Serbia. “We are organizing a peaceful protest in order to draw attention to the government to make them think that when Kosovo Assembly takes decisions they should be respected” Ms. Lama said.
Belgrade and Kosovo Serbs oppose Kosovo independence, but Serbian officials agreed to “integrated border control” to be manned by Serbian and Kosovo police and customs and European Union mission in Kosovo (EULEX).
EU has tied Serbia’s bid for membership to establishing “good neighborly relations” with Kosovo and to removal of barricades set up by local Serbs in protest against placing of Kosovo police and customs at the border.
Scores of Serb civilians and NATO soldiers have been injured in ensuing clashes and one Kosovo policeman was killed in July.
July troubles started when Kosovo sent special police units to the northern border to enforce a trade ban with Serbia but were turned back by armed Serbs. Then NATO troops, mainly German soldiers, intervened to try to calm the situation.
Thirty German and Austrian soldiers were injured in early December 2011, when hundreds of Serbs resisted an attempt by NATO to remove roadblocks they had put up in the north.
For more than seven months, Serbs have been blocking main roads in northern Kosovo to stop the country’s ethnic Albanian leadership from extending their control over parts of Kosovo.
Belgrade and Pristina have been at loggerheads over bilateral trade ever since Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008. However in September, after months of negotiations mediated by the EU, the two sides agreed to implement a free trade agreement.
Ethnic Albanian government in Pristina insists it will take over control of northern Kosovo but has failed to take concrete steps since last July 2011.
Kosovo is 90 percent ethnic Albanian and declared independence from Belgrade in 2008. Serbia refuses to recognize it and Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs, who dominate in a small slice of the north, continue to function as part of Serbia.
More than 80 countries, including the United States and 22 of the EU’s 27 members, have recognised the state, the last to emerge from the remains of old federal Yugoslavia.

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Vudi Xhymshiti; is an independent journalist, editor and photographer. He is focusing on the issues of the domestic politics of Kosovo, Foreign Policy of the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the Middle East. Xhymshiti is also focused on the issues of the politics of race, gender, identity, migration as well as displacement of people due to climate change and armed conflicts. He has been published in various media including Der Spiegel, NY Times, TIME, Paris Match, Le Monde etc. Xhymshiti is also a print media critic and founder of THE Frontliner.

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