Tensions on Kosovo-Serbian Border Escalate


Ethnic Serbians living inside of Kosovo began to protest this week over the Kosovo government removing Serbian license plates entering the country.


Kosovo gained independence in 1999 after the multiple civil wars broke up the country formerly known as Yugoslavia. A bloody war left relations between the ethnic Albanians and ethnic Serbians in Kosovo strained, only making it worse when in 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.


Many Serbians still believe that Kosovo is Serbian, while a majority of Kosovans believe that Kosovo is not Serbian, it is its own country.


Although both countries have been on relatively peaceful terms, tensions heated up as a free travel deal signed by both nations in 2016 expired on September 15, thus requiring Serbian license plates to be swapped out with Kosovan license plates.


Ethnic Serbs took to the streets, protesting the decision as government offices were burned and border entrances blocked, prompting the response of Kosovo special police to respond to the northern border.


In response to this, the Serbian government placed troops on the border, on heightened alert, with jets being reported flying over Kosovo. Reports also verified that the government in Belgrade has been transporting tanks to the border with Kosovo.


Many are worried that these protests will lead to further incidents down the road, especially due to the Serbian military movements on the border. Serbian media reports that Kosovan police opened fire on protestors with tear gas, although this could not be verified independently.


Worries have grown so fierce that NATO-led KFOR has increased patrols in the country, trying to beat off ethnic tensions that have lingered long past the civil war in 1999.


The two countries would reach an agreement, however. Serbia and Kosovo agreed to a compromise to break the border dispute. "We have a deal, after two days of intense negotiations, an agreement on de-escalation and the way forward has just been reached,” the EU Envoy Miroslav Lajcek stated on Twitter.


The deal consists of KFOR troops replacing the Kosovo border police, while both countries will finally begin putting stickers on license plates instead of removing them.



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