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Kosovo: Barricades to stay, but KFOR supplies may pass

Published time: October 19, 2011 09:25
Edited time: October 19, 2011 22:55

KFOR soldiers patrol near the village of Cabra on October 18, 2011 as NATO confronted Serbs manning a roadblock in northern Kosovo but agreed to wait 24 hours for a compromise that will allow its KFOR force to supply troops in the sensitive area (AFP Photo / Armend Nimani)

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Hours within the NATO-given deadline, a compromise over the road barricades in northern Kosovo has still not been achieved. Serbs refuse to dismantle the barricades, but will allow supplies to reach some NATO forces, though not all of them.

Talks with KFOR stuck after North Kosovo Serbs said they would only allow passage through blocked roads for KFOR but not for EULEX, RT’s correspondent Maria Finoshina reports.

Earlier NATO had given the Serbs 24 hours to work out a compromise, otherwise the alliance promised to take action. This is the third deadline mentioned by the Alliance, while the first was till Monday, and another till Tuesday, this is due to expire on Thursday.

The barricades were built in protest at Kosovo police and customs officials being placed at two border crossings with Serbia. Since then, the situation has remained at a standstill, with two previous NATO deadlines to dismantle passing with no action from either side.

Given the NATO deadline to find a solution, Wednesday may still bring some changes to the long-running dispute. On the other hand, despite ongoing attempts to find a compromise, neither side appears ready to yield.

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci urged the KFOR peacekeepers stationed in the region to “apply the rule of law” and ensure freedom of movement on "all territories of Kosovo.

"We want to build a better Kosovo, for all citizens of Kosovo, no matter what nationality they are," AP quoted Thaci as saying. "These actions are co-ordinated between the international community and the government of Kosovo."

“We have much more people than KFOR can provide soldiers,” Oliver Ivanovic, a state secretary at Serbia’s Ministry for Kosovo, told RT. “It’s about 400 people. But in the homes we can bring immediately 2,000 people. That means 2,400-2,500. It’s enough, more than enough to prevent KFOR [from destroying] the barricades.”

Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has criticized NATO for provoking the Serbs in Kosovo to fight an uncompromising battle.

When NATO suddenly starts dismantling barricades between the Kosovo and Serb sides, when NATO vehicles filled with Kosovo-Albanian policemen start cruising the streets with the clear aim of severing the last remaining communication channels between Serbia and Kosovo Serbs, then it becomes clear that NATO is exceeding its mandate. No one is going to like that,” said Rogozin.

Meanwhile, NATO officials say their top commander in Kosovo is holding talks with all parties in an effort to resolve the situation. No one can say for sure at this moment whether any decision will be taken today, but expectations and hopes are high.

Watch additional report by RT's Maria Finoshina