Serbia's Retaliation Against Kosovo Following Council of Europe Vote

 In the wake of the Kosovo Parliament's vote in favor of accession to the Council of Europe, Serbia has initiated a phase of retaliation, causing disruptions and tensions at the border between the two nations. The move has sparked concerns over human rights violations and strained relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

Bus with Kosovars stopped at the border with Serbia
 Bus with Kosovars stopped at the border with Serbia
Fatmir Haxholli, the Secretary of the Pristina Liaison Office in Belgrade, revealed that Serbia has been blocking over 300 Kosovar citizens at the border with Croatia since midnight. He condemned this action as an "absurd retaliation and nervousness" following the pro-vote in Strasbourg, Albanian media reports.

Haxholli emphasized that such a decision could only be orchestrated by Belgrade, stating, "Only the most authoritarian regimes block travelers from another country, claiming it's an order from Belgrade."

Officials from the Kosovo government highlighted that the confiscation of passports and travel documents from over 300 citizens constitutes a blatant violation not only of Brussels agreements but also of human rights.

These citizens have been detained at border points connecting Serbia with Croatia and Hungary, in what is seen as retaliation against Kosovo's advancement in its application to join the Council of Europe.

Reports indicate that travelers have been subjected to detailed interrogations, with some even questioned about their involvement with the Kosovo Liberation Army. The confiscation of personal documents and belongings has hindered their ability to return home.

At border crossings like "Dheu i Bardhë," utilized by Albanians from the Presheva Valley, long queues have formed due to Serbian authorities' stringent checks. Reduced traffic has also been observed at other border points.

Drivers crossing into Serbia have reported being fined by Serbian police for traffic violations, ranging from 100 to 400 euros. These fines have been issued for reasons such as improper seatbelt usage, even in cases where passengers were children asleep in safety belts or where medical conditions were present.

Among those detained are high-ranking officials, including the Deputy Director of the Kosovo Police, Dejan Janković, and six other police officers.

The escalation of tensions at the border underscores the fragility of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. The retaliatory measures not only disrupt the lives of citizens but also threaten the progress made in normalizing relations between the two nations.

As both sides navigate the complexities of their relationship, international observers urge restraint and diplomatic dialogue to prevent further escalation and protect the rights of all affected individuals.
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