Serbia’s Tadic: Kosovo Serbs Need to Abandon Barricades

Posted November 29th, 2011 at 11:50 am (UTC-5)
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Serbian President Boris Tadic is calling on Serbs to abandon roadblocks in the north of Kosovo, saying it is damaging the country’s bid for European Union membership.

The appeal came as fresh clashes erupted on Monday between Serbs and NATO peacekeeping forces, leaving more than 20 NATO soldiers and several Serbs injured.

Mr. Tadic also urged NATO to stop using force to remove the roadblocks.

Serbs in Kosovo’s tense north have been setting up the barricades since July when Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian government tried to take control of border areas under de-facto Serb rule.

European Union officials have said Serbia must find a resolution to the impasse if it wants to move its bid for EU membership forward.

Officials from Serbia and Kosovo are to meet in Brussels on Wednesday for European Union-brokered peace talks.

Fighting broke out on Monday when the peacekeepers started breaking down the barricades near the Serbian-Kosovo border. NATO forces used rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons against the Serbs who opened fire on the soldiers.

The blockades are cutting off NATO access to a military base in northern Kosovo. NATO is demanding freedom of movement throughout all of Kosovo.

Mr. Tadic has repeatedly called for an urgent stop to clashes between NATO peacekeepers and Serbs. He said the situation needs to be promptly settled through talks and without violence.

The ethnic Serbs refuse to recognize Kosovo’s independence, declared in 2008.