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Serbia Rejects Kosovo's Decision To Nationalize Mining Complex

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

Belgrade has rejected Kosovo's decision to nationalize the massive Trepca mining complex that straddles the border with Serbia.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told reporters on October 11 that Belgrade sees Pristina's decision as "null and void."

Tensions have been running high between Pristina and Belgrade after Kosovo's parliament voted on October 7 to nationalize the Trepca mining complex, located in Kosovo's northern region of Mitrovica -- which is divided between ethnic Albanians to the south of the Ibar River and mostly ethnic Serbs to the north.

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, which considers the complex its property, and Kosovo, which declared independence from Belgrade eight years ago, dispute the complicated ownership structure of Trepca.

That has left the complex in the hands of a trust with help from a United Nations body aimed at preparing it for sale.

With reporting by AFP