The Serbs have lifted the blockade of the roads in northern Kosovo, which they had maintained for 20 days in protest at what they consider to be the discriminatory policy of the Kosovar government, thus reducing a tension that kept the European Union (EU), the United States on alert and the UN.
The Kosovar Serbs removed some of the more than ten truck barricades that they placed on the 10th and it is expected that the unblocking of northern Kosovar, bordering Serbia, where the Kosovar Serb population, a minority in Kosovo, is concentrated, is expected to be completed this weekend. Many of the blocked roads lead to the Jarinje and Brnjak border posts, which have been closed since the start of the protest. The Merdare border post, blocked for two days, has reopened to traffic.
NATO's Kfor mission in Kosovo welcomed the removal of the barricades and called for it to be completed quickly and to avoid any incidents that could endanger security. "All parties must avoid any rhetoric or action that could cause an escalation," he said in a statement, stressing his willingness to intervene if necessary.
Kosovar media reported that hours before the start of the withdrawal of the blockade, two trucks were set on fire at a barricade near the divided city of Mitrovica.
Tensions began to ease after a former Kosovar Serb policeman accused of terrorism was released from prison and placed under house arrest. His arrest, which the Serbs consider unfounded and intimidating, had sparked discontent. For the removal of the blockade, the Serbs also called for the release of other people, as well as the withdrawal of the special police sent to the north by Pristina, arguing that their presence violates international agreements.
The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who met with representatives of the Kosovar Serbs, assured that he has received guarantees from the US and the EU that their demands will be met.