A train with the colors of the flag of Serbia has departed on Saturday from Belgrade toward Northern Mitrovica in the north of Kosovo.
The train that had the writing “Kosovo is Serbia” on it, was carrying inside of it officials of the Serb government too, while the new railway line didn’t have the approval of the Kosovo authorities.
The attempts of the Serb side to violate Kosovo’s territorial sovereignty and integrity forced the Minister of Interior, Skender Hyseni to dispatch special police units to stop the entry of the train that had departed from Serbia into the territory of Kosovo.
The incident in question flared tensions between the two countries even more.
Mustafa: We’re ready to defend Kosovo’s sovereignty
Prime Minister of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa said on Sunday evening that halting the train was the right decision.
“I think that halting the train was the right thing to do and that the train’s entry in the independent Republic of Kosovo would not be allowed and had it entered, it would face Kosovo laws. We are committed to enable free movement of people, but we will not allow such provocations. Allow me to stress the determination of the government of Kosovo to defend the country’s sovereignty”, said PM Mustafa in a press conference.
“We will not allow such provocations that aim at bringing Kosovo and the region back to the dark years”, said Mustafa among others, stressing that Kosovo’s institutions have been consulted with diplomatic missions in Kosovo on all actions that have been taken.
Meanwhile, the president of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci said that the authorities of Kosovo had to take all the necessary legal actions to immediately stop the train.
“Kosovo respects the freedom of the movement of people and goods. But the entry of a train covered with Serbia’s nationalist posters, which are against the Constitution and the laws of Kosovo, is unacceptable. What’s more, this train carried Serbia’s senior officials, who do not have a permit to enter Kosovo based on the procedures in power”, President Thaci said.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to Pristina, Greg Delawie expressed on Saturday his concern in relation to the event with the train.
“The issue of the train is disconcerting. I call on all sides to restrain themselves. We need normalization and not confrontation”, wrote the US ambassador Delawie on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the spokeswoman of the head of the EU for Foreign Policy and Security, Maja Kocijancic, declared that all problems between the two countries must be solved through joint dialogue.
“Constructive approach in dialogue is an essential requirement for both sides in order to advance in their path toward the European Union”, declared the EU official.
Serb side: If Kosovo wants war, we will respond
The halting of the train travelling from Belgrade to Mitrovica, triggered strong reactions among Serbia’s state authorities.
Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic said in an extraordinary press conference that a decision was taken to stop the train in order “to prevent the conflict”.
“It was my decision to stop the train in Rashka, in order to protect our people, preserve peace and avoid conflicts”, Vucic said.
After an urgent meeting with Serb security services, PM Vucic said that “Pristina has attempted to provoke a conflict”.
He called on the Albanians of Kosovo “not to attempt and attack Serbs with guns, because Serbia will not allow such thing”.
“A passenger train has departed toward Pristina and not a tank, but incredible things are happening. I have informed Mogherini that I was disappointed with the EU’s reaction about these developments. We will also inform Russia, China and the US vice president that Pristina is playing war games”, Vucic said.
Meanwhile, the Serb president, Tomislav Nikolic had a stronger reaction. On Sunday, he said that Serbia is ready to send troops to Kosovo to protect Serb citizens, if this were necessary.
“The two countries were on the verge of a conflict. Kosovo showed that it waned war, as it had sent special forces not to allow a train painted in Serbia’s national colors to enter its territory”, he said.
Saturday’s train travelling from Belgrade to Mitrovica was the first one since the war of 1998-1999. /balkaneu.com/