Friday, July 29, 2011

Northern Kosovo Explodes

Last Wednesday (20 July), the Kosovo government introduced a reciprocity ban on goods from Serbia as Serbia does not recognize goods with the Kosovo customs stamp.  Kosovo also implemented a 10% tax on goods from Bosnia & Herzegovina who has not yet recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence.  Serbia and B&H have complained to CEFTA and the European Union on the Kosovo ban saying that it is illegal.

Kosovo Police went into the North of Kosovo to begin enforcing the ban on Tuesday (26 July) and one Albanian police officer was fatally shot.  Ethnic Serbs set fire to the border checkpoints after EULEX police surrendered the borders to the mobs prompting harsh criticism of the mission for failure to establish rule of law in the North.  Serbs continue to protest the Kosovo government's actions by blocking the roads and preventing NATO troops from moving around in the North resulting in the use of helicopters to transport police and troops.  However NATO has taken over control of the two border checkpoints and established a military zone with the warning that the troops have authorization to fire upon anyone threatening property or persons.  European Union, EULEX, and US officials have expressed concern that Pristina acted unilaterally and did not consult them before taking action in the North which has been a flashpoint since the end of the war in 1999.

As KFOR has been withdrawing and reducing troop size due to "increased stability/security" in Kosovo recently, one wonders if KFOR will be able to enforce peace in Kosovo as the renewed violence threatens the stability of Kosovo.  Also, as the sparks fly, people are questioning who stands to gain something by the renewed tensions?  Another article explores how the European Union making a historic mistake is to blame for the continued problems in Kosovo.