PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo's prime minister has called on Serbia to refrain from threatening language and turn to dialogue and cooperation.
Isa Mustafa on Wednesday spoke at his cabinet meeting about recent tensions with Serbia which heightened over the weekend when a Serbian train, bearing signs reading "Kosovo is Serbia" and decorated in the colors of the Serbian flag and Christian Orthodox symbols, was turned back from the border with Kosovo.
Serbia's President Tomislav Nikolic has accused Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leaders of "wanting war" and warned that Serbia would defend "every inch" of its territory.
Mustafa said that there is no alternative to European Union-brokered dialogue, aimed at normalizing their relations.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but that has not been recognized by Belgrade.
Serbia, backed by Russia, has sought to maintain influence in Kosovo, especially in the north where most of the country's Serb minority lives. NATO-led troops have controlled Kosovo's territory since a three-month air war in 1999 to stop a bloody Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists.
Serbia officially is seeking EU membership, but has lately been moving toward Russia, its traditional Slavic ally.
Mustafa deplored "Serbia's intensification of provocations" which he considered as "unrealizable" and "anachronistic."
Earlier in January tensions between soared following the detention in France of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister and a former guerrilla commander in Kosovo's 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia. Serbia demanded his extradition to Belgrade to face war crime charges. Pristina says Haradinaj has twice been cleared of such charges by a U.N. tribunal.
In December, the Serb ethnic minority in Mitrovica raised a concrete wall in the northern part of the bridge on Ibar River, calling it a technical support barrier against a landslide. Kosovo protested, and its parliament voted to demolish the wall.