Militant Serbs erected barricades in the predominantly Serb populated north of Kosovo on Sunday. Unknown persons also fired shots in the direction of Kosovan police officers. No one was injured, the police in Pristina said late Sunday evening.
The tensions arose because the Kosovan authorities will no longer recognize Serbian identity documents at the border crossings from Monday (00:00). Serbs with such papers have to have a provisional document issued at the border.
According to the Kosovan interpretation, this is a measure based on reciprocity. For a long time now, Kosovan citizens have had to have a provisional document issued when they cross the border into Serbia because the Serbian authorities do not recognize the Kosovar papers.
The Kosovan journalist Una Hajdari, for example, wrote on Twitter that the measure was a reaction by Kosovo to the measure that had been in force the other way for a long time. Comparable roadblocks have happened before, and they rarely lead to armed escalations.
The anger on the Serbian side can be explained above all by the fact that the measure took place outside of the official dialogue monitored by the EU.
“While none of this is ‘normal’ or welcome, unfortunately it is not out of the ordinary with previous incidents in the North,” she writes in a lengthy thread. Various political or criminal Kosovo Serb groups would “flex their muscles.”
But as someone who has personally visited Bondsteel, the region’s largest US military base, she can “state with almost 100 percent certainty that Russia or Serbia cannot (re)occupy Kosovo overnight.”
Instead, the “spreading of alarmist disinformation” encourages inciters to actually feel emboldened to shoot people. “So you have that on your conscience while spreading fake news,” she warns.
Kosovo, now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, used to belong to Serbia. In 2008 it declared itself independent. Serbia does not recognize the statehood of Kosovo and claims its territory for itself.