NATO peacekeepers oversee removal of roadblocks in Kosovo

US NATO soldiers serving in Kosovo patrol next to a road barricade set up by ethnic Serbs near the town of Zubin Potok on August 1, 2022. (AFP)
US NATO soldiers serving in Kosovo patrol next to a road barricade set up by ethnic Serbs near the town of Zubin Potok on August 1, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 02 August 2022

NATO peacekeepers oversee removal of roadblocks in Kosovo

NATO peacekeepers oversee removal of roadblocks in Kosovo
  • Kosovo, recognized as a nation by more than 100 countries, is seeking to join NATO

ZUPCE, Kosovo: NATO-led peacekeepers backed by helicopters on Monday oversaw the removal of roadblocks protesters had set up in Kosovo, where political tensions have flared more than two decades since a NATO campaign of airstrikes drove out Serbian forces.
Kosovo police said the removal of the barricades in the north of the country allowed two border crossings with Serbia to be reopened.
“Roads are now free for traffic to pass, both border crossings are open now for people and goods to cross,” the police said in a statement.
The removal of the barricades came after the Kosovo government postponed the implementation of a decision that would oblige ethnic Serbs, who are a majority in the north, to apply for documents and car license plates issued by Kosovan institutions.
The situation has revived faultlines with Serbia and Russia, neither of which recognize Western-aligned Kosovo as an independent state and have blocked its efforts to join the United Nations. Kosovo, recognized as a nation by more than 100 countries, is seeking to join NATO.
The government’s decision to postpone followed consultations with US and EU ambassadors.
“Violence will not be tolerated. Those who use violence will be punished by the rule of law with the force of law,” Prime Minister Albin Kurti told journalists on Monday. He said a total of nine road bocks had been set up.

SIMMERING DISPUTE
Fourteen years after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, some 50,000 ethnic Serbs in the north still use license plates and papers issued by Serbian authorities, refusing to recognize the Kosovan government.
Ethnic Serbs had parked heavy machinery including trucks filled with gravel on roads near the border with Serbia on Sunday in protest at the new policy, which the government agreed to postpone until Sept. 1.
After that date, local Serbs will have 60 days to switch to Kosovo license plates and accept documents issued at the border to Serbian citizens, including those living in Kosovo without local papers.
“Now, thank God, some escalation has been avoided overnight, but this situation has only been delayed for 1 month,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday.
Tensions with Serbia remain high and Kosovo’s fragile peace is maintained by NATO’s KFOR mission, which has 3,770 troops on the ground. The mission issued a statement on Sunday say it was prepared to intervene in line with its mandate if stability was jeopardized.
Italian peacekeepers were visible in and around then northern town of Mitrovica on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter saw helicopters from the KFOR flying over the north of Kosovo, which borders Serbia. Peacekeepers were also present as the roadblocks were dismantled, standing at the roadside and chatting with residents.
Earlier on Monday, the government began issuing extra documents to Serbian citizens at the biggest border crossing between Serbia and Kosovo, Merdare. Kosovo’s government said it would stop issuing the documents once road blocks are removed.
A year ago, after local Serbs blocked the same roads in another row over license plates, Kosovo’s government deployed special police forces and Belgrade flew fighter jets close to the border.
Serbia and Kosovo committed in 2013 to a dialogue sponsored by the European Union to try to resolve outstanding issues but little progress has been made.

 


Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk
Updated 56 min 39 sec ago

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk

Japan, Jordan confirm strong cooperation during summit talk
  • King Abdullah II expressed his heartfelt condolences for the passing of former Prime Minister Abe
  • The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace

TOKYO: Japan’s Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio, held a summit meeting on September 28 with King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is currently in Japan after attending the state funeral for former Prime Minister ABE Shinzo.
At the outset of the meeting that lasted 10 minutes according to the foreign ministry in Tokyo, Kishida expressed his appreciation for the king’s attendance at the state funeral and expressed his hope to hold discussions to further develop the diplomatic legacy inherited from the late former Prime Minister Abe.
King Abdullah II expressed his heartfelt condolences for the passing of former Prime Minister Abe, and stated that late former Prime Minister Abe was a great friend of not only Jordan but also the region and shared the hope to develop the bilateral relationship based on his legacy.
Prime Minister Kishida extended his congratulations to Crown Prince Hussein’s engagement and expressed his wish for the long-lasting prosperity of the Jordanian Royal Family and further development of friendly relations with Japan’s Imperial Family.
The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace. Prime Minister Kishida expressed his concern about the impact of the price hike of food and fuel on Jordan, which is hosting a large number of Palestinian refugees, and stated that Japan would continue its support for Jordan, including its support to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees).
In response, King Abdullah II expressed his gratitude for Japan’s wide-ranging cooperation for Jordan and UNRWA and stated that he would like to cooperate with Japan in advancing projects involving countries in the region.
The two leaders confirmed that they will continue to work closely together for the long-term stability of the region, according to the ministry.
 


EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation
Updated 57 min 9 sec ago

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation

EU executive proposes new ‘biting’ sanctions on Russia for Ukraine escalation
  • Ursula von der Leyen: ‘We do not accept the sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine ... we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation’
  • Von der Leyen: ‘We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia’

BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday proposed fresh sanctions against Russia over its war against Ukraine, including further trade restrictions, individual blacklistings and an oil price cap for third countries.
The proposal will now go to the bloc’s 27 member countries, which will need to overcome differences on the new sanctions and reach unanimity to implement them.
That may take time despite the EU being spurred into action by Russia’s partial military mobilization, nuclear threats to the West and moving to annex a swath of Ukraine.
“We do not accept the sham referenda nor any kind of annexation in Ukraine. And we are determined to make the Kremlin pay the price for this further escalation,” von der Leyen told reporters.
“We are proposing a new package of biting sanctions against Russia.”
Earlier on Wednesday, a senior economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the EU to further cut money flows to Russia from fossil fuel sales.
The G7 group of industrialized countries — where EU countries Italy, France and Germany are also members — already agreed to put such an oil price cap in place via insurers.
“If you are doing nothing it means you are just prolonging this war with Ukraine, this is just ridiculous, the whole civilized world has to be united on that,” Oleg Ustenko told reporters.
While the EU already agreed to stop importing Russian oil starting later this year, Ustenko said the “blood money” would keep on flowing to Moscow unless European companies are banned from insuring seaborne shipments.


Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants
Updated 28 September 2022

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants

Austria to launch checks at Slovak border to stop migrants
  • The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday
  • “We have to react before the smugglers react,” said Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner
BERLIN: Austria announced Wednesday that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia, following a similar decision by the Czech Republic, in a move that’s aimed at keeping migrants from entering.
The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday, the Austrian government said.
The Austrian interior ministry said the border controls are a response to the Czech Republic’s announcement, a day earlier, of controls on its border with Slovakia starting Thursday, and aim to ensure that human traffickers do not use Austria as an alternative.
“We have to react before the smugglers react,” Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner told public broadcaster ORF.
Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all belong to the European Union’s visa-free Schengen zone where people can normally cross borders without getting checked. However, temporary border controls have repeatedly been reinstated in the past, whether to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic or to stop migrants from entering illegally.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters later on Wednesday that he would meet Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic next week to discuss the issue of migration.
“The states are not doing this for their own sake, but to fight organized crime and smuggling and to reduce the pressure from the borders,” Nehammer said in Vienna.
Austria introduced controls along its borders with Hungary and Slovenia in 2015, when more than 1 million migrants from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan entered the European Union. The Alpine country has repeatedly extended those controls, which remain in place.
Back then, only about 8,500 migrants were detained in the Czech Republic, while this year so far 12,000 migrants have been detained, the Czech interior ministry said, adding that most of them were Syrians. A total of 125 human smugglers have been arrested in the Czech Republic this year, a significant increase compared with the previous years.
Most migrants don’t want to stay in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, but travel through them to reach wealthier places like Germany, Sweden or Austria.
The Austrian border controls will initially be enforced at 11 crossing to Slovakia for 10 days.

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
Updated 28 September 2022

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
  • Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Wednesday said claims that Russia was somehow behind a possible attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines were stupid, adding that Moscow saw a sharp increase the profits of US companies supplying gas to Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily conference call with reporters that the incident needed to be investigated and the timings for repair of the damaged pipelines were not clear.
Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea from two Russian gas pipelines at the center of an energy standoff.
Asked about claims Russia might somehow be behind the possible attack, Peskov said: “That’s quite predictable and also predictably stupid.”
“This is a big problem for us because, firstly, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are filled with gas — the entire system is ready to pump gas and the gas is very expensive... Now the gas is flying off into the air.”
“Before making any claims, we should wait for investigation into these ruptures, whether there was an explosion or not,” Peskov said. Information on the incident could be expected from Denmark and Sweden, he said.
Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday that three of four offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day. All Nord Stream’s pipeline had not delivered gas by the time of the incident.
Nord Stream 1 has reported a significant pressure drop caused by the gas leak on both lines of the gas pipeline, while Nord Stream 2 said that a sharp pressure drop in line A was registered on Monday.


North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
Updated 28 September 2022

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
  • Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test
  • North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday

SEOUL: North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, as South Korea and the United States staged joint naval exercises involving an aircraft carrier.
Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test.
The launch came two days after South Korea and US forces launched their military exercise in the waters off South Korea’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier.
US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to arrive in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Thursday after a visit to Japan.
North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday.
North Korea has been subjected to UN sanctions since 2006, which the Security Council has steadily — and unanimously — stepped up over the years to cut off funding for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea rejects UN resolutions as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defense and space exploration, and has criticized military exercises by United States and South Korea as proof of their hostile intentions.