Serbs Continue Blocking Roads in Northern Kosovo

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 4:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo continue to block main highways leading to the border crossings with Serbia, despite a NATO-brokered agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

Serbs in northern Kosovo have been blocking the main highways for almost two weeks in protest of Kosovo's ban on Serbian imports. Pristina imposed the ban after Serbian border officials blocked Kosovo's goods. Under the agreement reached Friday, no commercial goods will move through the border crossings until Kosovo and Serbia resume talks next month.

A leader of one community told reporters Tuesday that the roadblocks will remain in place until a committee representing all Serb municipalities in the region decides if and when they will be removed. No date has been set for such a meeting.

The head of Belgrade's negotiating team, Borislav Stefanovic, has said the majority of northern Kosovo Serbs support the agreement with NATO. But some northern Kosovo Serbs are concerned that the deal is not in their favor.

An official with Serbia's Ministry for Kosovo, Oliver Ivanovic, warned the region's Serbs not to break away from Belgrade because that could weaken their position. He told Serbian state television Tuesday that any lack of unity would be detrimental for Serbs in Kosovo.

The region has been tense since 2008 when Pristina declared independence from Belgrade and was recognized by about 70 countries, including the United States.

Serbian President Boris Tadic has said Belgrade will never recognize independent Kosovo or abandon its ethnic Serbs there.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has accused Belgrade of stirring ethnic tensions in northern Kosovo, where ethnic Serbs are a majority, with the intention of dividing Kosovo.