Serbs gather to block road near administrative line

JARINJE -- Kosovo Serb officials gathered at Jarinje on Tuesday morning to show disagreement with the intention to on Dec. 10 start implementing the IBM agreement.

(B92)
(B92)

Serb local government officials in northern Kosovo blocked this morning the part of the main road between Leposavić and Raška in the buffer zone toward central Serbia, where the works are carried out to implement the deal.

B92's reporter said that the protest was peaceful, and that the very cold weather forced the participants to gather around a bonfire. They also said that they would stay there - "until further notice"

The municipal officials arrived at the roadblock at around 05:00 CET, while others continued to join them throughout the day.

A truck was seen hauling in firewood for the bonfire, so that the protesters can keep warm.

NATO troops in the province, KFOR, have in the meantime set up a new checkpoint using their armored vehicles, also on the Leposavić-Raška road.

Our reporter says that since cars are being let through in turn from both directions, the traffic is slow, but has not ground to a halt. EULEX officials are located at Jarinje itself. Nearby, several Serbian police (MUP) vehicles have been spotted.

Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija want to remain citizens of Serbia, President of the Zubin Potok Municipality Slaviša Ristić said Tuesday, adding that they would remain at Jarinje until they get a guarantee that the creation of the border between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia would be given up on.

The intention to set up an integrated border or crossing at Jarinje actually means separating Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo from Serbia, Ristić said.

“We cannot allow this to happen as our fates cannot be linked to an independent Kosovo and Greater Albania. We see not our perspective there. We want to remain citizens of Serbia,” Ristić told Tanjug.

He said that the Serbian government had failed to deliver to the Kosovo Serbs any written guarantees that they would not have to pay customs duties to the administration in Pristina or that they would be able to use their Serbian personal documents and registration plates.

“We will not allow anybody to be throwing dust in our eyes and trying to separate us while at the same time saying that this is not a border at all,” Ristić said.

Ristić called on the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and Patriarch Irinej for help, recalled the fact that the SPC had recently said that there should be no borders with Kosovo.

A Most TV reporter at the scene said earlier on Tuesday that the protesters' intention was to once again show Belgrade, the international community and Priština, that they did not intend to accept the setting up of a border between different parts of Serbia.

Councilors from the municipalities of Kosovska Mitrovica, Zvečan, Zubin Potok and Leposavić are taking part in the protest, along with members of the municipal councils and municipal assemblies and presidents.

They will remain at the location "where the border is being made" until it is understood that "it's impossible to go against the will of the people", according to announcements.

Mayor of Leposavić Slavko Stevanović said that the local citizens wished to democratically send a message that they "do not want a border between central Serbia and Kosovo".

Stevanović added that they will not oppose the continuation of the construction works at the site, nor prevent it with any kind of violence.

"We do not have any special plans, we are gathered here, we will stay here until further notice," he said.

"We will have no Kosovo Customs. We do not wish to have (ethnic) Albanian institutions or the Kosovo police," said Stevanović. He also noted that presidents of the four municipalities in northern Kosovo reached conclusions on this issue that were binding to them.

They expect that more citizens from northern Kosovo and central Serbia will join them during the day.

Workers from AD Novi Pazar-Putevi arrived this morning at 07:00 CET at the location where they had been for the past week building the facilities for the implementation of the integrated management of crossing, but they did not resume their work.

Sirens were sounded at 07:30 CET in Kosovska Mitrovica, alerting the citizens to gather in the buffer zone.

Yesterday, Mayor Krstimir Pantićc said that if the implementation of the agreement turned out to be unacceptable for Serbs in Kosovo, there would be no violence, but be announced "civil disobedience"