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Tensions run high in North Kosovo as Serbians block critical roads.

Kosovan Security forces near Gazivode hydroelectric power station. Image Credit: Visegrad 24

Tension has again escalated again as the Prime Minister of Kosovo issued an ultimatum to Serbia demanding the removal of barricades by the end of the day on Sunday. Kosovo threatened that after the ultimatum they will send police to remove the barricades. The situation escalated yesterday after the arrest of a Serbian policeman prompting hundreds of Serbians to build barricades on two border crossings. The barricades erected paralyzed traffic from Kosovo towards Serbia.

On Saturday night, Kosovo said that policemen stationed on one of the borders leading to the barricade came under fire by unknown assailants. The police fired back and the attackers fled in an unknown direction. European Union Police which are deployed in the region as part of the rule of law mission (EULEX) were also targeted by a stun grenade.

The Serbian President Aleksander Vucic asked NATO for permission to send Serbian soldiers to Kosovo, although they know that the request will be rejected. The Serbian National television RTS said that the Serbian President held a security meeting two hours ago. The State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Serbia said that ‘they are approaching the point of no return in Kosovo’. Serbian military vehicles have been spotted in the cities of Tutin and Valjevo close to the border of Kosovo. The special forces of Kosovo took control of the facilities at the artificial lake of the Gazivode hydroelectric power station.

There are 120,000 Serbians in Kosovo out of a population of 1.8 million. Even though Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, Belgrade does not recognize it and it is known to encourage the Serbians living in North Kosovo to defy Pristina’s authority.

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