European Western Balkans

Kosovo bans entry of Serbian vehicles and goods after 3 Kosovo police officers arrested by Serbian police

Session of the Government of Kosovo; Photo: Facebook / Albin Kurti

BELGRADE / PRISTINA – The Government of Kosovo decided on Wednesday to ban vehicles with Serbian license plates from entering the country as “security measures”, after Serbia arrested three Kosovo police officers.

“For security reasons, institutions of Kosovo have decided to increase the level of border controls. Therefore, as an urgent step, it was decided to prohibit the entry of vehicles with Serbian license plater into the Republic of Kosovo, while analysis of the situation by the security institutions continues”, said government spokesperson Perparim Krieziu, RFE reported.

Earlier, Kosovo media reported that the government has also banned imports of goods from Serbia.

These measures came after Serbian authorities arrested three Kosovo police officers, saying they were planning terroristic action in Serbia. Serbian authorities said the officers were armed with automatic weapons.

“With the quick and efficient actions of the Serbian police, the attempt of the so-called Kosovo police to invade the territory of central Serbia to carry out an action which by all parameters is a terrorist act with the aim of additional destabilization and escalation of the conflict directed against the Republic of Serbia,” said the statement”, said a statement of Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

While the Serbian side insisted that three officers are arrested in a territory of Serbia, Kosovo authorities said that three police officers have been kidnapped.

“Three Kosovo policemen were kidnapped today in Leposaviq, in the area of an illegal smuggling route, around 300 meters inside the territory of our country,” Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in a statement on Facebook.

“We call for the officers’ immediate release, and for the international community to denounce these acts”, Kurti said.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić accused Kurti of wanting to provoke a war. “I am afraid we have crossed the Rubicom”, Vučić said for RTS, adding that we are at a junction, whether we will have peace or not.

Serbian President denied claims by officials in Pristina that the Serbian military was involved in the arrests, saying that the army was based miles away from the site of the arrest and that KFOR could easily verify that.

Vučić said the Kosovo government ban on imports from Serbia is in violation of international regulations and CEFTA rules, adding that Pristina wants to “starve the people in the north … and expel the Serbs for good”. He said Belgrade would not let them go hungry.

Spokesman Peter Stano said that the European Commission is in contact with Belgrade and Pristina as well as KFOR to establish what happened. “We urge both Kosovo and Serbia to refrain from any action or reaction that could further contribute to heightening tensions. We reiterate EU’s call for immediate and decisive de-escalation,” Stano said.

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