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Kosovo Asserts Control Of Disputed Mine Complex Over Serbian Warning

The Trepca mining complex once accounted for two-thirds of Kosovo's economy. (file photo)
The Trepca mining complex once accounted for two-thirds of Kosovo's economy. (file photo)

Tensions are high between Pristina and Belgrade after Kosovo's parliament voted on October 7 to nationalize the massive Trepca mining complex that straddles the border with Serbia.

It is the latest move in a long-running battle to avoid bankruptcy for the facility, which once accounted for around two-thirds of Kosovo's economy but now operates at a trickle with more than $1.5 billion in creditor claims against it.

Bankruptcy proceedings could begin as soon as November 1.

But Serbia and its former republic, which declared independence from Belgrade eight years ago, dispute the complicated ownership structure of Trepca.

That has left the complex -- which produces lead, silver, and zinc in ethnic Serb-dominated northern Kosovo -- in the hands of a trust with help from a United Nations body aimed at preparing it for sale.

Kosovar Serbs blocked roads and otherwise protested ahead of this week's debate in Kosovo's parliament, and the government in neighboring Serbia has warned against Pristina trying to take possession of what Belgrade describes as a "socially owned enterprise."

Seventy-nine Kosovar lawmakers voted for Kosovo's nationalization plan, which aims to give the state 80 percent control and miners the other 20 percent and makes Kosovo a guarantor of the mine's debts.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Balkan Insight

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