31.07.2022, Kosovo, Mitrovica: Polizisten sichern mit ihren Fahrzeugen eine Brücke während in der Stadt Sirenenalarm zu hören ist. Im überwiegend serbisch bevölkerten Norden des Kosovos haben militante Serben am Sonntag Barrikaden errichtet. Unbekannte hätten außerdem Schüsse in Richtung kosovarischer Polizisten abgegeben, verletzt worden sei dabei niemand, teilte die Polizei in Pristina am späten Sonntagabend mit. Foto: Festim Beqiri/TV7News /dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Following tensions in northern Kosovo near the border with Serbia, Pristina has pledged to postpone a controversial measure on planned border controls for the time being. In cooperation with international allies, his government promised to suspend the implementation of the measures for 30 days, Prime Minister Albin Kurti said on Twitter on Monday night.

The prerequisite is that all barricades are removed and complete freedom of movement restored. The government condemned “the blockade of roads in northern Kosovo” and the firing of shots by armed persons, it said in a statement. Pristina blamed Belgrade for “aggressive actions” throughout the afternoon and evening.

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 no longer wanted to recognize Serbian identity documents at the border crossings from Monday. Serbs with such papers should have had 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 primarily 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.