Protesters on the Serbian side of Kosovo’s main border crossing halted it on Wednesday to show support for their ethnic cousins in Kosovo, who are demanding that Serbia not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Two other crossings on the Serbian border have been closed since December 10 because of protests on the Kosovo side. Only three points of entry between the two countries are still open.
After weeks of growing tensions between Belgrade and Pristina, the latest protest happened just hours after Serbia said it had put its army on the highest level of alert.
The old photo is from 1990 when Serb militants put barricades across Croatia to block roads and police. Wars in former Yugoslavia started soon after. Second photo is from this week, Serb militants blocking roads in Kosovo. It’s tragic how little has Belgrade learned in 30 years. pic.twitter.com/fkK6JPOQcF
— Petrit Selimi (@Petrit) December 27, 2022
Belgrade-based media said that Serbs in Serbia used a truck and tractors to build the latest roadblock on Tuesday. It is near the Merdare crossing on Kosovo’s eastern border. Because of the blockade, thousands of Kosovars who work in other parts of Europe can’t go home for the holidays.
Around 50,000 Serbs who live in the ethnically divided north of Kosovo refuse to recognize the government in Pristina or the fact that Kosovo is a separate country from Serbia. Many Serbs in Serbia and the government of Serbia back them.
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“If you have already entered Serbia then you have to use other border crossings … or go through North Macedonia,” Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry said on its Facebook page, announcing the closure of the Merdare crossing.
Even though the crossing was already closed, the closing happened at midnight. The most important entry point for road freight into Kosovo is at Merdare. The country is linked to the rest of the world by rail.
Serbia says its army is on “highest level of combat readiness” as tensions with Kosovo soar https://t.co/WdZt2HhwRY
— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) December 27, 2022
Since December 10, police and Serbs in northern Kosovo have been shooting at each other and have set up more than 10 roadblocks in and around Mitrovica. They did this after a former Serb police officer was arrested for allegedly attacking current police officers.
Two more roadblocks were put up in the north on Tuesday. Albanian-majority After a war in 1998 and 1999, when NATO stepped in to protect ethnic Albanians, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The West supported this move.
KFOR, the NATO peacekeeping force in Kosovo, has been asked by the government in Pristina to clear the barricades. But KFOR doesn’t have the right to do anything on Serbian land.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.