News BlogMissions OperationsStabilization - Peace

Tensions in northern Kosovo. EULEX is unfolding. KFOR patrols

(B2) For the past few days, everyone has been wanting to show their muscles near the border between Serbia and Kosovo. European and NATO police and military intervene

Serbian plates are no longer accepted in Kosovo. Here, last February, in Mitrovica (northern Kosovo) (B2 / AP)

Tension mounts on the pitch

Police, tanks and even planes

On the Kosovar side, armored vehicles of the Kosovar special police were deployed from Monday, September 20, on the Kosovar side towards the border points of Jarinje and Brnjak. On the Serbian side, armored vehicles were also transported not far from the "administrative line" or border. Modernized T-72s tanks with new optics, as reported B92 (Serbian media) Saturday, September 25. Air Force Mig 21s even flew over the border several times this weekend.

Belgrade supported by Moscow

Serbian Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic and his Chief of Staff visited the units stationed at the administrative border. All in the company of the Russian ambassador, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, like the reports a journalist. Just to show that if Kosovo is supported by NATO, Serbia is not isolated and can count on the support of at least one member of the United Nations Security Council. This Tuesday, September 28, N. Stefanovic adds a layer: “ the army raised its level of combat readiness on the orders of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic According to B92.

In question, a banal conflict of license plates

The cause of this adrenaline rush: a seemingly trivial question. What license plates must cars have in Kosovo? A Kosovar plate, Pristina swears, the State of Kosovo being independent since 2008. A Serbian plate, reacts Belgrade which has never fully recognized the independence of this former Yugoslav autonomous province. And still considers the inhabitants of Kosovo (at least the Serbs) as its constituents. It is well understood that behind this problem of daily life lies a real geopolitical question: whether or not to recognize Kosovo (1).

The interim agreement that ended

License plate recognition was an important point of the Brussels Agreement, within the framework of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue (2). An agreement had been reached, which entered into force in 2016, but only on an interim basis, for a period of five years. This agreement has ended. And Kosovo simply decided two weeks ago to prohibit the circulation of Kosovar vehicles with a Serbian license plate on its territory. Another reason put forward: the Kosovar Prime Minister speaks of " reciprocity of measures » media report, as Serbia previously banned Kosovar plates on its territory.

Strengthened European and Euro-Atlantic presence

In accordance with the security plans, the Europeans of EULEX Kosovo and the NATOs of KFOR have begun to reinforce themselves on the spot – in North Kosovo only.

EULEX police deployed for a week

Teams from the Formed Police Unit (FPU) of EULEX (the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo) are already deployed since September 20 at the common crossing points (CCP) of Bërnjak/Tabalije and Rudnica/Jainjë, which are currently blocked, explains Ioanna Lachana, spokesperson for the mission. Their role is reconnaissance to monitor the security situation on the ground ».

Kosovo Security Guards

The EULEX police unit thus responded to the official request of the Kosovo Police. It intervenes in its role as the second responder in terms of security in Kosovo (second security responder). That is to say to support the Kosovo Police in case of need. It is about to be supported by the third line of reinforcements (third security responder), NATO forces.

The number of KFOR patrols increased

KFOR has thus been deployed since Monday (September 27) in northern Kosovo. U.S., Canadian and Polish soldiers clarifies Kosovo Online. NATO forces have increased patrols along the main roads affected by the roadblocks” et “[deployed their] units at the border crossing points of Jarinje and Brnjak “, where demonstrators and barricades are also massed, confirms the commander of KFOR, General (Italian) Franco Federici (3). 

Objective: to lower the pressure

These measures adopted by NATO have three objectives, details our interlocutor: “ promote a rapid de-escalation of tensions and restore a safe and secure environment, as well as freedom of movement for all communities in Kosovo ". It was all " previously discussed by the KFOR Commander with all Kosovo institutions and with the mayors of the northern municipalities “, specifies the commander of the force.

It should be noted that the American and Canadian defense attachés also made the trip to visit the two border points of Jarinje and Brnjacka “to better understand the situation”. “Glad to see that KFOR is there as a stabilizing factor” they say in a tweet.
US and Canadian Defense Attachés (Credit: US Embassy in Belgrade)

An exceptional presence

It is not the custom of the Kosovo Police to ask for international reinforcements. The last time Kosovars asked EULEX to intervene was on May 28, 2019. This was also in northern Kosovo. EULEX then had increased the frequency of formed police unit patrols for more than a week, following the Kosovo Police's anti-smuggling operation on the same day “reminds B2 Ioanna Lachana.

(Aurelie Pugnet)

  1. Serbia recognizes de facto independence, but not de jure.
  2. Negotiations initiated several years ago between Serbia and Kosovo under the aegis of the European Union, with the objective of normalize their relationships.
  3. KFOR acts “ in accordance with its mandate, which stems from UN Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999 the general reminds us.

B2 Writing

© B2 - Bruxelles2 is a French online media that focuses on political Europe (powers, defence, foreign policy, internal security). It follows and analyzes developments in European policy, unvarnished and without concessions. Approved by the CPPAP. Member of SPIIL. Please quote "B2" or "Bruxelles2" in case of recovery

s2Member®