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Protesting Serbs Still Blocking Kosovo-Serbia Border Crossings


With rising tensions, a Kosovo police officer stands guard at the border crossing of Jarinje on September 20.

Tension remains high at two border crossings between northern Kosovo and Serbia, where ethnic Serbs from Kosovo have blocked traffic for a second day on September 21 amid a spat between the two neighbors over reciprocal recognition of license plates in the context of a wider dispute over sovereignty.

The previous day, hundreds of Kosovo Serbs drove to the border in their cars and trucks to block the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings to protest against a move by Kosovar authorities to temporarily replace Serbian license plates from cars while they drive in Kosovo.

Kosovo police fired tear gas at the protesters, but they continued to keep the roads leading to the border crossings blocked.

Small groups of protesters spent the night there in tents.

Concern rose again when Kosovar authorities deployed special police with armored vehicles to the border to impose the new policy described by Pristina as a "reciprocity" action.

Serbian police have for years been taking off registration plates from Kosovo-registered cars entering Serbia.

Kosovar authorities say a 2016 deal reached in European Union-mediated talks had expired and only proper Kosovo symbols are now valid.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic convened a session of the national-security council on September 21 to discuss the measures that Belgrade will take "if Kosovo does not change its decision."

Vucic said that the measures would primarily be economic.

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that as long as Serbia changes the license plates of Kosovo cars when entering there, the same would be applied to Serbian cars entering Kosovo.

The EU and United States urged Kosovo and Serbia to exercise restraint “immediately, without any delay,” and refrain from unilateral actions.

With reporting by AP
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