Serbian officials are meeting with a European Union mediator today after violence erupted along the border between Serbia and neighboring Kosovo last week.
Since Thursday, NATO forces have been in control of the Jarinje and Brnjak border checkpoints in northern Kosovo after last week’s violent flare-up. Early last week, the Kosovo government sent in police forces to take control of the two border crossings in order to enforce a ban on Serbian imports. The embargo was an effort to counter to Serbia’s own ban on Kosovo imports, which has been in effect since 2008. The move effectively blocked the flow of food and medicine from Serbia to northern Kosovo, an area dominated by ethnic Serbs that rely heavily on those imported goods. Kosovo Serbs retaliated by setting fire to one border post, and the ensuing clash resulted in the death of one Kosovo police officer. Kosovo Serbs also blockaded roads, preventing NATO trucks from reaching peacekeepers at the checkpoints.
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has stated that the embargo was an effort to reign in control over northern Kosovo, whose ethnically Serbian residents largely do not respect the authority of Kosovo’s government. In an interview with the Associated Press Monday, Thaci declared that he would continue his campaign to exert control over the northern part of the country.
Serbian President Boris Tadić declared over the weekend that Serbia would not seek to wage a war with Kosovo over the matter. “We live in a region of the former Yugoslavia where wars have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives,” he said. “I join the majority in the western Balkans that believes peace has no alternative.” The Serbian parliament passed a resolution late Sunday that agreed with Tadic’s statements and called for a peaceful end to the situation. Although the atmosphere remains tense, early Monday NATO began to clear several roadblocks put up by Kosovo Serbs.
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