Tensions rise – Kosovo closes border, Vucic sees “turning point”

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Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia continue to escalate: Following the alleged kidnapping of three Kosovo police officers by Serbian security forces, Kosovo has closed its borders to goods and vehicles from Serbia. This is evident from orders from Kosovo Customs and a statement from a government spokesman in Pristina. Serbian President Vucic responds with threats.

“Our goal is security, which starts at the border,” Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in Pristina on Thursday. However, he did not talk about closing the border, but only about “tightening controls on vehicles from Serbia”.

Kurti called for the release of the Kosovar policemen arrested the day before. At the same time, the head of government expressed his surprise at the “silence of the international community”.

Vucic sees “turning point” of war and peace
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, meanwhile, warned that his country’s relations with Kosovo have reached a “tipping point” over whether or not peace will come. He fears the “Rubicon has crossed,” Vucic said Wednesday night.

Triggering the latest tensions was the arrest of a Serb in northern Mitrovica by Kosovo police on Tuesday and the subsequent arrest – according to Kosovo Kidnapping – of three Kosovo police officers by Serbian soldiers on Wednesday.

Arrest behind the border?
According to the Serbian president, the three Kosovo police officers were arrested on Serbian territory, 1.8 kilometers from the border with Kosovo. On the other hand, Kosovar Prime Minister Kurti said the arrest took place 300 meters from the Serbian border on Kosovar territory. The three had been investigating smuggling routes of Serbian criminals into Kosovo territory, Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said.

Vucic reported that the arrested police officers said they were unaware they had crossed the border. Some of them also said they didn’t even know how to use the GPS devices they were equipped with.

KFOR soldiers wounded
The Serb’s arrest the day before was linked to clashes in Zvecan in early May that left 30 KFOR soldiers and 50 Serbs wounded. According to Prishtina, the detainee, a kickboxing trainer from northern Mitrovica, was said to have been one of the leaders of the Serbs involved in a confrontation in Zvecan, first with Kosovo police and then with KFOR soldiers.

Source: Krone

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