For days there have been fears that the conflict in the Serb-majority area around the city of Mitrovica in northern Kosovo could flare up again. There have been repeated reports of gunfire since late Sunday afternoon. Now the authorities of the unrecognized area of northern Kosovo have sounded the alarm.
Air raid sirens have been activated in the northern areas of the predominantly Serb-inhabited self-proclaimed Republic of Kosovo, the website reports Vecernje Novosti.
“After 6 p.m. the air raid alarm was raised in Kosovska Mitrovica. Numerous fighters from the rapid reaction force with automatic weapons, helmets and protective vests are spread out in front of the new base of the self-proclaimed Kosovo border police near the administration point ‘Jarinje’.”,
reports the publication.
It is said that residents have started setting up barricades and blocking roads in Rudare, on the Priština-Leposavić highway and near the town of Zvečan.
Earlier on Sunday, in an address to citizens, Serbian President Alexander Vučić announced that Kosovo police would start an operation in the north of the province at midnight on August 1 and prevent the entry of citizens with ID documents issued in Belgrade. According to him, an action to re-register vehicles with Serbian license plates to “Republic of Kosovo” plates will also be initiated. The head of state called on the Kosovo Albanian authorities to respect the peace and warned that if aggressive actions were taken against the Serbs, “Serbia will win”.
At the same time, Vučić appealed to the Kosovar government in Pristina to ease the situation. “The atmosphere is heated and the Serbs will not tolerate any more atrocities“, he said on Sunday in Belgrade. Vučić continued:
“I appeal to all to try to keep the peace at almost any cost. I ask the Albanians to come to their senses, the Serbs not to fall for provocations, but I also ask the representatives of the powerful and large countries that have recognized the so-called independence of Kosovo, to pay a little attention to international law and the reality on the ground respect and not allow their charges to cause conflict.”
“We don’t want conflicts and we don’t want war“Vucic said in his speech. “We will pray for peace and seek peace, but let me tell you right away that there will be no surrender: there will be no surrender and Serbia will win. If they dare to start persecuting, harassing and murdering Serbs, Serbia will win.”
As announced by the government of Kosovo, from August 1, Serbian documents will no longer be valid in the territory it controls, and their holders will receive a provisional certificate at the entrance. At the same time, vehicles with Serbian license plates must have their RKS (Republic of Kosovo) license plates rewritten.
Belgrade does not recognize the RKS signs on its territory. Last year this led to a conflict: Pristina banned cars with Serbian license plates and relocated a special unit of the Interior Ministry ROSU to the north of the province. Local Serbs responded by blocking the road to Jarinje and Brnjak checkpoints with construction machinery, maintaining the roadblock despite police attempts to disperse them with tear gas and riot police. After that, with Western mediation, Belgrade and Pristina reached an agreement according to which, when leaving Kosovo and Metohija for central Serbia, the Kosovo symbols on the number plates should be replaced by stickers with the Serbian coat of arms and the letters KM.
more on the subject – Kosovo: 17 years after the largest outbreak of ethnic violence despite NATO and the UN on the ground