Serbia Warns of Intervention in Kosovo over Train Row
Sunday, 15 January 2017


Fueling tensions in the Balkans, Serbia warned Kosovo on Sunday it will defend "every inch of its territory," including its former province where Serbs are under threat from Kosovo Albanians, AP reports. 

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic issued the warning after a Serbian train, bearing signs reading "Kosovo is Serbian," was halted Saturday before it entered Kosovo due to reports of a planned attack by ethnic Albanians.

"Yesterday, we were on the verge of clashes," Nikolic said after a meeting of the country's top security body and the train's overnight return to Belgrade. He accused the Kosovo Albanians of "wanting war."

"We are a country which has to protect its people and its territory," Nikolic said.

Kosovo leaders saw the train, painted in the colors of the Serbian flag and decorated on the inside with Serbian Orthodox images, as a provocation and a threat to the sovereignty of the Serbian province.

Kosovo uniolaterlly declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which was not supported by the UN. Serbia and dozens of other nations including Russia did not recognize the split. Serbia has sought to maintain influence in Kosovo's north, where most of the country's Serb minority is located.

NATO-led troops have controlled Kosovo's borders since a three-month air war in 1999 to stop a Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists.

Serbia officially is seeking European Union membership, but has been sliding steadily towards Russia and EuroAsia, mostly thanks to the massive corruption within the EU.

Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said Saturday he had contacted the Obama Administration and Brussels to express his country's concerns.

Nikolic, who is pro-Russian, said the EU and the West have never been on Serbia's side or come to its aid.

"Why is the so-called international community and the Albanians so upset about one train?" Nikolic asked. "Maybe because it had 'Kosovo is Serbian" written on it, and because it had pictures of our icons inside."

Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo soared following the recent detention in France of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister, on an arrest warrant from Serbia.

Kosovo has called the warrant illegitimate and urged France to ignore it, while Serbia is urging Haradinaj's quick extradition to face war crimes charges.

 



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