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News 05 Aug 11

Kosovo Northern Border Crisis Resolved

NATO has brokered an agreement with the government of Kosovo to restore stability to the northern borders of Kosovo following a crisis which threatened tension in the region.

Petrit Collaku Pristina

Late this afternoon, the government of Kosovo and NATO-led KFOR struck an agreement over control of two checkpoints in the north of the country.

Under the terms of the agreement, the government of Kosovo will continue its trade ban on goods entering the country from Serbia or Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, KFOR troops will be responsible for the border points until September and possibly later.

In a statement issued to the press today, Kosovo Prime Minister Hasim Thaci said that the understanding forsees the unblocking of roads to Gates 1 and Gate 31 and the removal of barricades.

Additional points in the agreement state that humanitarian assistance will be allowed into Kosovo in the event that an independent international organisation verifies there is a need for such assistance.

It also allows for a train line running from Belgrade to Mitrovica to operate providing it is checked by Kosovo police, EULEX and KFOR.

Thaci reiterated that the government’s decision to impose the trade ban on Serbia was not aimed towards the Serb community in the north of Kosovo. “We are respecting the Constituion and law of our state,” Thaci said.

The agreement has been presented to Serb officials and chief negotiator Borislav Stefanovic and Serb minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanovic are discussing the offer with Serb community in the north. 

Tension began at the country’s northern borders following a decision by the Kosovan government to enforce a ban on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kosovo special police took over two checkpoints to enforce the order. This came in response to both countries refusing to recognise Kosovo’s customs stamps during a dialogue process in Brussels.

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