Tensions: Kosovo Banned Serbian License Plates - 3 Border Police Officers Detained

World » SOUTHEAST EUROPE | June 15, 2023, Thursday // 09:53
Bulgaria: Tensions: Kosovo Banned Serbian License Plates - 3 Border Police Officers Detained Detained Kosovo police officers

Kosovo banned all vehicles with Serbian license plates from entering its territory in response to the arrest of three border police officers on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

"In order to increase security at all border points, we have decided to stop all vehicles with Serbian license plates from entering the territory of Kosovo," said Nora Fetoshi, an adviser to the interior minister.

Three Kosovo police officers were detained by Serbian forces on Wednesday, with Kosovo and Serbia accusing each other of crossing the border illegally.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti demanded their release, saying the three were arrested 300 meters away on Kosovo's territory, near the border with Serbia.

"The entry of Serbian forces into the territory of Kosovo is aggression and aims at escalation and destabilization," Kurti wrote on his Facebook page.

But Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the three were arrested on Serbian territory near the village of Gnilica, 1.8 km from the border. On a live TV show, he accused Kurti of fomenting conflicts.

Vucic said Belgrade was ready to present all the evidence and accept an international investigation into the arrests. The president made it clear that Belgrade could move some of its military, currently stationed about five kilometers from the border, to garrisons in Serbia to calm tensions.

"It will be difficult to get back to normal," he said.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after the 90% ethnic Albanian majority revolted against repressive Serbian rule.

In 1999, a NATO bombing drove Serbian security forces out of Kosovo, but Belgrade still considers it a southern province.

The violence erupted last month when 30 peacekeepers and 52 Serbs were injured in clashes in four predominantly Serb municipalities in northern Kosovo outside Serbia. The occasion was the protest of the Serbs against ethnic Albanian mayors who were elected in local elections, where the voter turnout was only 3.5%. Serbs in the area boycotted the elections.

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