December 7, 2011
Serbia's road to EU may be blocked as checkpoints return to Balkans

Barbed wire and burnt-out vehicles, trucks laden with logs splayed across the roads, stone-throwing mobs and panicking international peacekeepers cowering behind their riot shields. The Balkan checkpoint, wearily familiar from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, is back.

In an attempt to keep a little swath of Kosovo Serbian, Serbs have cut roads, blocked passages and erected checkpoints at a score of locations across the north of Kosovo bordering Serbia since the summer.

Last week dozens of German and Austrian peacekeepers and Serbian protesters were injured in clashes as the confrontation escalated into a crisis whose impact is reverberating well beyond this poor, dusty corner of south-eastern Europe.

The contest is about who should control the border between Serbia and Kosovo and whether it is even a border at all. Serbia regards Kosovo as its own, refusing to recognise the Albanian-majority country that declared independence three years ago. For the Kosovars, meanwhile, having police and customs officers on the border crossings with Serbia is a fundamental attribute of statehood.

  1. americanwanderlust posted this