The Kosovo government postponed the ban on documents issued by Serbian authorities to 1 September. The changes include the replacement of passports and license plates of Serb residents living in Kosovo. It is assumed that holders of these documents will be issued a temporary entry certificate.
“The Government of Kosovo has committed to delay the implementation of the decision from Monday, August 1, 2022, until September 1, 2022, when the barricades in northern Kosovo will be lifted and freedom of movement will be restored. We thank our international partners, especially US Ambassador Jeffrey Hoveni, for their commitment and contribution.” transmits TASS with reference to the Kosovo authorities.
They noted that the decision to postpone was taken after the meeting of President Vyusa Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti with international partners. It was noted that the government condemned “the blockade of highways in northern Kosovo and the shooting at police by local gunmen”.
Pristina plans to establish another “equivalence measure” in its relations with Belgrade by canceling Serbian documents in the territories under its control. From 1 August, Serbian citizens living in Kosovo would have to show a temporary ID during their visit to the unrecognized republic. The document, valid for 90 days, can be used in government institutions. Serbs also had to get Kosovo plates at the entrance to the republic.
The decision taken by the Kosovo authorities on 31 July caused indignation in Serbia. Kosovo Serbs set up barricades in the cities of Rudar and Zupcha and blocked the way for Albanian special forces. On July 31, air raid sirens sounded in Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo. Gunshots were heard on the border with the unrecognized republic. Belgrade decided to transfer the army and the plane to the border with Kosovo. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Pristina was preparing an unreasonable “attack” against the Serbs.
NATO ready to intervene
On the night of 1 August, against the backdrop of escalating tensions between Belgrade and Pristina, the NATO-controlled KFOR (“Kosovo Force”) declared its readiness to intervene if stability in northern Kosovo was threatened.
“The KFOR mission is monitoring the situation closely and is ready to intervene if stability is threatened,” the statement said.
KFOR said in a statement that the overall security situation in Kosovo’s northern municipalities remains tense and calls on the parties to dialogue and restore peaceful stability in the region.
On the evening of July 31, the first shots were fired on the Kosovo-Serbia border. An air raid warning was heard in Kosovska Mitrovica.
“In front of the new base of the self-proclaimed Kosovo border police, not far from the administrative center of Yarine, many fighters of the rapid reaction unit with automatic weapons, helmets and bulletproof vests are deployed …” Serbian publication Vecherne Novosti.
They also reported that the Kosovo police had closed the administrative point of the Brnjak gate to Serbia.
Later, Serbian President Vucic said that the Kosovo army plans to attack the country at midnight. According to him, detachments of the Albanian police have already gone to Yarinya and Brnjak.
Moreover seen He reported that the Serbian army had entered Kosovo, but the Belgrade Defense Ministry denied these reports. Following this, Kosovo police informed their officers that they had been shot and that they were not dead or injured.
Vučić then went to the Serbian General Staff and addressed the nation. He said he wanted the international community to influence the leadership of the unrecognized Kosovo and expressed hope for a softening in the republic.
“We asked all international representatives to do their best. I believe we will receive good news, I hope this work will be completed tomorrow, not tonight. It remains to keep the peace,” said Vucic.
“We call for an end to provocations”
Spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova, in response to the escalation in the Balkans, statedMoscow urges Kosovo, the United States and the European Union to stop provocations against Belgrade. He reminded that the rights of Serbs in Kosovo should be respected. He also announced that the EU mediation mission in Kosovo had failed in connection with Pristina’s decision to start enforcing rules on forced exchange of documents.
“This is also an example of what kind of place is being prepared for Belgrade in the European Union and offers Belgrade the de facto enduring of its citizens’ lack of rights,” he said.
He added that Pristina authorities deliberately intensified the conflict. According to him, “The leaders of the Kosovars know that the Serbs will not remain indifferent when it comes to a direct attack on their freedom.”
Later, in his speech to the nation, Vucic thanked the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its support to this situation.