News / Europe

NATO Concerned About Kosovo After Deadly Border Clashes

US soldiers serving in KFOR check vehicles from Serbia entering Kosovo after reopening a checkpoint, demolished and burned by angry Kosovo Serbs, in the village of Jarinje, on the Serbia-Kosovo border, July 28, 2011
US soldiers serving in KFOR check vehicles from Serbia entering Kosovo after reopening a checkpoint, demolished and burned by angry Kosovo Serbs, in the village of Jarinje, on the Serbia-Kosovo border, July 28, 2011
Stefan Bos

The U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency session to discuss Kosovo, where the NATO military alliance and the European Union are struggling to restore a tense peace after border clashes near Serbia killed one ethnic-Albanian policemen and injured four others. NATO says its peacekeepers have taken control of two contested border crossings, but concerns remain about the future.

Serb mob attack

Serbian television shows European Union police rushing to their cars and fleeing as about 200 mostly masked Serbs attack border posts in northern Kosovo near Serbia. The mob smashes doors and windows and soon set one of the outposts on fire in the overnight violence.  

Eventually NATO, already stretched by wars in Afghanistan and Libya, managed to send American and French peacekeepers to the troubled area.  NATO said Thursday its troops took control of the two border posts, despite being attacked by Serbs armed with fire bombs.

Alliance forces

The alliance has about 6,000 troops in Kosovo, 11 years after it forced Serb forces to end a crackdown on independence-seeking ethnic Albanians.

But the latest violence raises questions about whether NATO has enough troops available if ethnic clashes spread further in Kosovo.

The top-European diplomat in Kosovo, Pieter Feith, has acknowledged the international community is struggling to overcome tensions in northern Kosovo as the 60,000 Serbs there do not recognize the region's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia.

Serbs are not loyal to Kosovo

Feith, who heads the International Civilian Mission, explains that problems remain as the Serb community in northern Kosovo takes only orders from Belgrade and not from the central government in Kosovo's capital Prisina. But he tells Dutch radio the international community does not want the north to separate and does not want the situation to turn into a "frozen conflict" because it is strategically located in Europe.

Serbia's role

Local Serbs block access to border crossing in Jarinje on Kosovo-Serbia border to protest against Kosovo special police units operation overnight to take control of two disputed border crossings in Kosovo's northern Serb-run border region, July 26, 2011
Local Serbs block access to border crossing in Jarinje on Kosovo-Serbia border to protest against Kosovo special police units operation overnight to take control of two disputed border crossings in Kosovo's northern Serb-run border region, July 26, 2011

Kosovo's government has accused Serbia of encouraging the violence. But Belgrade's chief negotiator, Borko Stefanovic, has denied these charges.   

"We do everything to calm the situation down," he said. "And we strongly condemn any violence."

The latest standoff began this week when Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci ordered special police forces to take over the two disputed border posts, which were previously manned by Serb members of the police under EU supervision.

Pristina wants to assert control over the north and enforce a ban on goods from Serbia to counter years of a similar boycott by Belgrade in response to Kosovo's 2008 secession - which Serbia does not recognize.

Thaci has defended the move, although the operation left one ethnic Albanian policeman dead and injured four others.

"Black Hole"

Prime Minister Thaci says in a statement the operation was the right decision, because in his words "it was a concrete step in establishing the rule of law" in the volatile north. He says "Kosovo can not remain indifferent" and allow a part of its territory to remain "a black hole, not only for itself, but also for Europe."               

Thaci says the European Union's 3,000-member rule-of-law mission "hesitated and refused" to back Pristina's decision to control the two disputed crossings on the border with Serbia. The European Union has condemned Kosovo's operation.

US position

The U.S. government did not condemn the move, but criticized Kosovo for not having coordinated its actions with the international community. That view is shared by top-diplomat Feith.   

He says "Kosovo government's wants to establish its authority also in the north."  He says the countries he represents "support those efforts to a certain extent," but he adds they  reject violence. Feith also says the international community wants the government's authority extended to the whole territory of Kosovo.

But the tensions are overshadowing Western attempts to normalize relations between Kosovo and neighboring Serbia, at a time when they are seeking closer ties with the European Union.  

The U.N. Security Council continues to discuss the situation as NATO tries to mediate to help prevent the outbreak of another Balkan conflict.

You May Like

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs