Kosovo moves to assert control over Serbian border
Tensions rose overnight Monday night in Kosovo as police moved to establish control over two border checkpoints in the Serb-dominated part of the former province, DPA reported.
Kosovo deployed special police units to the crossings with Serbia in northern Kosovo, Interior Minister Bajram Rexhepi confirmed.
One was under Kosovo's control, while a police commando unit was blocked by Serb barricades from reaching the other border crossing, Kosovo and Belgrade media reported.
In Kosovo, the Koha Ditore daily said the operation was "the first attempt of Pristina to assert its authority over the entire territory of Kosovo."
The move came after Kosovo last week banned the import of Serbian goods, in response to failed talks aimed at liberalizing trade between Serbia and its former province.
With a 90-per-cent ethnic Albanian majority, Kosovo split in 2008 from Serbia, but its northern section, dominated by Serbs and under Belgrade's heavy influence, remained out of Pristina's control.
Belgrade leaders insist that Serbia will never recognize its former province as a sovereign state.
Eager to move closer to EU membership, though, Serbia agreed to begin negotiations with Kosovo over real-life issues complicated by the row.
The latest round of talks, held since March under EU auspices, was postponed last week as Serbia refused to lift an effective embargo it maintains on Kosovo's goods on its borders.