Kosovo says Serbia's train to its north violates sovereignty

AP News
Posted: Jan 13, 2017 3:23 PM

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo considers Serbia's effort to launch a rail link between the two countries as a provocation and an aggressive violation of its sovereignty.

The Serbian government announced Friday it will launch a railway link between Belgrade and northern Mitrovica in Kosovo, where most of the country's ethnic Serb minority is located.

Kosovo media reported that Marko Djuric, head of the Serbian government office for Kosovo, announced that a train from Russia that was decorated with the Serb flag and names of Serb churches, monasteries and medieval towns would in a month drive in a test between Belgrade and Mitrovica, the first time since the 1998-99 war, for half the price of the bus ticket.

Kosovo State Minister Edita Tahiri on Friday called on the European Union and the international community to stop Serbia, which, she said, "is turning into a threat to peace and stability in the region."

"This is a provocation against Kosovo, which shows that Serbia has openly come out with aggressive politics threatening Kosovo's territorial integrity and sovereignty and its national security," Tahiri said.

It was NATO's bombing in 1999 that stopped a Serbian crackdown against Kosovo separatists and civilians following an ethnic Albanian uprising. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has not recognized it.

Despite EU-brokered talks to normalize their relations, the two countries' ties have been strained following the recent detention in France of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister, on an arrest warrant from Serbia.