Kosovo: Claches in northeastern; Calm in southeastern Kosovo-Serbia border

Anti-riot police on Saturday used batons and pepper spray to push back several hundred Kosovo Albanian protestors from the checkpoint as they tried to blockade the northeastern border with...

Anti-riot police on Saturday used batons and pepper spray to push back several hundred Kosovo Albanian protestors from the checkpoint as they tried to blockade the northeastern border with Serbia. While, the southeastern Kosovo-Serbia border remains calm with thausands of “Vetevendosje” supporters as well as several hundred of Kosovo Police in riot gear.
Kosovo Southeastern Border – by Vedat Xhymshiti
| Saturday, January 14, 2012 | The IndependenT NewsweeK |
Police cordons blocked the road outside the northern town of Podujevo, some six kilometers (four miles) from the border with Serbia, in order to prevent members of the radical Kosovo Albanian “Self-determination” movement from blocking two border posts, an AFP correspondent saw.
Several journalists are reportedly being pepper sprayed by Kosovo Police forces.
Protestors, in northeastern and southeastern Kosovo-Serbia border are waving Albanian flags, chanted “UCK”, the Albanian abbreviation for Kosovo Liberation Army, the guerrilla movement that fought Serbian forces in the 1998-1999 war.
Crowd of protesters facing Police in riot gear in
southeastern Kosovo-Serbia border. 
(Corbis Photo/Vedat Xhymshiti)
Ismail Kurteshi a ‘vetevendosje’ leader which is leading the crowd of thousands of protesters in southeastern Kosovo-Serbia border, declared that they will keep blocking the one lane of the highway which connects Kosovo with Serbia in southeastern border point of Dheu i Bardhe, the situation here remains calm, while several hundred of Kosovo Police units are preparing for a possible action.
The movement, led by hardliner opposition leader Albin Kurti, had announced plans to temporarily block the border with Serbia in order to bar Serb products from entering the breakaway territory.
Kurti joined protesters and said “Serbia is an enemy country for Kosovo, that is why our motto is ‘Serbia will not pass through’.”
The government in Pristina and the international community denounced the blockade. Kosovo prime prime_minister Hashim Thaci has said his government would do its best to prevent the blockade.
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 EU-mediated negotiations, the two sides agreed to implement a free trade agreement.
While everyone seems to be interested in the current socio-political developments in Kosovo, a rare and eerie silence grips the US diplomatic mission in Pristina.

Analysts suggest it is the same silence that was witnessed during last year’s developments when anti-Pristina authorities agitated in northern Kosovo, while Serbs continue the roadblocks of main roads to stop the country’s ethnic Albanian leadership from extending their control over northern parts of Kosovo.

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.
Scores of Serb civilians and NATO soldiers have been injured in ensuing clashes and one Kosovo policeman was killed in July. Those 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.

Critics say the US ambassador has been characterized by the usual reaction of what ever social political developments occurred in Kosovo, even though at times the American Ambassador Dell encouraged Kosovar citizens to stay at home instead of joining any kind of peaceful protests organized by anyone in Kosovo.
Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga and western ambassadors to Pristina also condemned Vetevendosje plan on border blockade. On the other hand, Kosovo minority Serbs have been blocking roads in northern Kosovo for over six months in protest against placing of Kosovo police and customs at border crossings.
Thaci said the blockade was direct attack on Kosovo institutions, which were legally elected by the people. “We fully respect the constitution and Kosovo laws and no one has the right to take power in his hands,” he said.
Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti has said dozens of buses of his supporters from Albania would join the protest. But Thaci said he would not allow the repetition of events in Tirana last year when four people were killed in opposition protests.
He said Vetevendosje, as a party would soon sink because of its extreme stands. “We won’t allow Kosovo to sink with them,” he added.
Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo in a statement called on citizens “not to respond to calls for disruption of public order and peace”. It appealed on citizens of Kosovo “to respect constitutional order and laws of Kosovo and to preserve the security, interests and property of out country”.
Vetevendosje, or Self-Determination, has 14 deputies in the 120-seat parliament and is known for its radical stands. It planned a blockade of border crossing with Serbia on Saturday to prevent imports of Serbian goods, claiming Kosovo exports were barred by Serbia.
Serbia lost control over Kosovo in 1999, when NATO bombed for 78 days to halt the killing and expulsion of ethnic Albanians in a two-year counter-insurgency war under then-President Slobodan Milosevic.

More than 80 countries, including the United States and 22 of the EU’s 27 members, have recognized the state, the last to emerge from the remains of old federal Yugoslavia. But Serbia’s ally Russia has blocked a resolution on independence in the United Nations Security Council.

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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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