Serbia ‘hopes’ it won’t need to use army against Kosovo, says PM

Soldiers of NATO-led peacekeeping force KFOR take a break by the side of the road in the village of Kosterc, Kosovo. Serbia’s prime minister warned that the formation of a Kosovo army could trigger Serbia’s armed intervention in it’s former province. (AP Photo)
Updated 05 December 2018

Serbia ‘hopes’ it won’t need to use army against Kosovo, says PM

  • Kosovo, a former Serbian province that broke away in a guerilla war, is expected to vote next week on whether to transform its lightly-armed emergency force into a national army
  • The plans to create its own military force have enraged Serbia, which still refuses to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 independence declaration

BELGRADE: Serbia’s Prime Minister said Wednesday she “hoped” Belgrade would not have to resort to war in response to Kosovo’s moves to create its own army, in the latest fiery salvo between the neighbors.
Kosovo, a former Serbian province that broke away in a guerilla war, is expected to vote next week on whether to transform its lightly-armed emergency force into a national army.
Since the end of the 1998-99 war that effectively cleaved it from Belgrade, Kosovo has relied on NATO-led forces to ensure security.
The plans to create its own military force have enraged Serbia, which still refuses to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 independence declaration.
“I hope that we will never have to use our army, but at this moment it is one of the options on the table,” Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told reporters.
NATO also weighed in from Brussels, with its chief Jens Stoltenberg warning Kosovo the move was “ill-timed” and may carry “serious repercussions.”
A day earlier Serbia’s president Aleksander Vucic accused Pristina of trying to “drive out” Kosovo’s 120,000 Serb community, which is concentrated in the north, with its army plans.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj responded Wednesday saying it was a “pure lie” that the army would be directed in the Serb-dominated north, which has never fully submitted to Pristina’s authority.
“The army will not be for the north of Kosovo... The army will be used to help NATO in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.
More than 13,000 people, mostly ethnic Albanians, were killed in the 1998-1999 independence war, which ended when a NATO bombing forced Serb troops to withdraw from Kosovo.
The neighbors have never normalized relations and tensions have been running especially high since Pristina slapped Serbian goods with a 100 percent tariff last month.
Pristina said it was revenge for Belgrade’s efforts to undermine Kosovo on the world stage by shutting it out of global organizations.
According to Kosovo customs spokesman Adriatik Stavileci, the tariff has reduced border trade significantly.
Only 48 trucks from Serbia and Bosnia have entered over the past two weeks, compared to 100 daily before the tariff, he said.
Although Serbia is Kosovo’s biggest regional trading partner, so far for there has been no significant shortage of goods or price surges.
Supply stocks, imports from Albania and Macedonia, but also smuggling across the border are helping keep shelves full, according to experts.


Bomb ‘intended to kill police’ detonates on Northern Ireland border

Updated 29 min 16 sec ago

Bomb ‘intended to kill police’ detonates on Northern Ireland border

  • Concerns have grown over possible return of hard border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and Republic
  • In April, a journalist was shot dead by Irish republican dissidents during rioting in Londonderry

LONDON: An explosive device described as an attempted trap for security forces detonated in a village on the Northern Ireland border on Monday, but failed to injure anyone.
Police and bomb disposal experts had been working in the area of Newtownbutler over the weekend since receiving an initial report about a suspect device on Saturday.
“I am of the firm belief this was a deliberate attempt to lure police and ATO (Anti-Terrorism Officer) colleagues into the area to murder them,” Stephen Martin from the Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement.
Martin later told reporters that two Irish republican dissident groups, the New IRA and the Continuity IRA, “would be a very good starting point for the investigation.”
He added: “It’s fair to say their level of activity has increased this year.”
Concerns have grown that the possible return of a hard border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit could increase security tensions in the once war-torn province.
Martin said violent attacks had grown in recent months, calling on politicians to take action to heal enduring divisions in society.
“Terrorism of this nature is a societal problem,” he said. “We shouldn’t take our peace for granted.”
Three decades of conflict known as “the Troubles,” in which more than 3,500 people were killed, largely ended in Northern Ireland with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
Violent incidents have continued, however.
In April, a journalist was shot dead by Irish republican dissidents during rioting in Londonderry.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly actions of those responsible for this bomb attack, which could have had devastating consequences,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement.
“There is never any justification to use violence to achieve political aims,” he said.