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Kosovo is “on the brink of armed conflict”, threatens the Serbian Prime Minister

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The situation in Kosovo, where Serbs have erected barricades in a new rise in tension, is “on the brink of armed conflict”warned this Wednesday, December 21 the Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic.

“We must do our best, all together, to try to preserve the peace. We are really on the brink of armed conflict because of Pristina’s unilateral measures”the capital of Kosovo, Ana Brnabic told a conference with Serbian NGOs.

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Populated overwhelmingly by Albanians, the former Serbian province of 1.8 million inhabitants declared its independence in 2008, which Serbia does not recognize. Belgrade encourages the Serbs in Kosovo to challenge the local authorities, at a time when Pristina wants to establish its sovereignty over the whole territory.

Attacks in the north of the country

Several hundred Serbs who live in northern Kosovo have been holding roadblocks since December 10 to protest against the arrest of a former Serbian policeman, paralyzing traffic to two border crossings with Serbia. A few hours after the barricades were set up, the Kosovo police announced that they had suffered three firearm attacks.

The European Union police, deployed in the region as part of the EULEX mission, were also targeted by a stun grenade which caused no injuries.

These latest tensions escalated a notch in northern Kosovo, where more than a third of Kosovo’s 120,000 Serbs live, when Pristina announced its intention to hold elections there in Serb-majority municipalities, after the resignation of all Serbian elected officials and police officers in this area. The Kosovo authorities finally postponed the poll until April.

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NATO strengthens its mission

The NATO-led Kosovo peacekeeping force (Kfor) has strengthened its presence in the north, sending additional troops and patrols there, the force’s commander, Italian General Angelo, said on Friday. Michele Ristuccia, in a statement released by NATO.

He assured that Kfor had “of all capabilities, including in terms of personnel, to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all communities, throughout Kosovo”.

For its part, Serbia asked Kfor on Friday to allow it to deploy its soldiers and police in northern Kosovo, without receiving a response to date. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, however, stressed that he was “almost certain” that this request would not be “not accepted”.

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