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Kosovo Government Denies Ban On Serbian Officials, Deepening Confusion

PRISTINA -- Kosovo’s government has denied there was a ban on Serbian officials entering the country, contradicting the Foreign Ministry and deepening confusion in Pristina.

The comment July 5 by spokeswoman Donjeta Gashi came one day after an adviser to Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli announced that no officials from Serbia would be allowed to enter Kosovo.

The adviser, Jetlir Zyberaj, said in a statement posted to Facebook July 4 that the ban was a response to "constant propaganda and false news about the country and our citizens."

But Gashi told RFE/RL on July 5 no such measure had been imposed.

“The government of Kosovo has not issued any decision which bans Serbian officials on entering Kosovo,” she said.

There was no immediate reaction to Gashi’s comment from the Foreign Ministry, or from Zyberaj.

Tensions between Belgrade and Pristina have been strained since the 1999 NATO-led air war that led to Kosovo’s breaking away from Serbia and ultimately declaring independence, something Belgrade has refused to recognize.

European Union-mediated talks have failed to settle the two countries’ differences.

In recent months, those tensions have escalated further, as Kosovo imposed a 100-percent tariff on all Serbian goods in November.

Belgrade has claimed that the tariffs created a humanitarian crisis in Kosovo’s north, but Pristina insists that goods coming from Serbia have been replaced by imports from other countries in recent months.

On July 3, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Serbia was using mountain roads to send goods to northern Kosovo to avoid having to pay the import tax.

In May, Kosovo banned Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, accusing her of making "racist" comments against Albanians, which she denied.