Tags: EU | Serbia | Kosovo | Train

Serbia Sends Train to Kosovo North Despite Pristina Protest

Serbia Sends Train to Kosovo North Despite Pristina Protest

Saturday, 14 January 2017 07:56 AM

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia on Saturday launched a railway service to Serb-dominated northern Kosovo despite protests from the government in Pristina which called it a provocation and an aggressive violation of its sovereignty.

Serbian officials in Belgrade saw off a Russian-made train decorated with the Serb flags, churches, monasteries and medieval towns, and inscribed with "Kosovo is Serbian" in 20 world languages.

The service also included the Internet connection inside the train and hostesses wearing colors of the Serbian national flag.

"This is like a mobile exhibition presenting our cultural heritage!" declared Marko Djuric, who heads Serbian government's office for Kosovo. Djuric described the train link as important for northern Kosovo and rejected criticism coming from Pristina.

Djuric warned that any attempt to block the train from entering Kosovo would present a violation of freedom of movement.

"I don't see why something that is part of world heritage would present a provocation for anyone," he said.

The event comes amid already heightened tensions between Serbia and Kosovo following the recent detention in France of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister, on an arrest warrant from Serbia.

A former Serbian province, Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Belgrade does not recognize the split and has sought to maintain influence in Kosovo's north where most of the Serb minority is located.

Saturday's promotional ride was the first from the Serbian capital to the northern town of Mitrovica since the 1998-99 war and is expected to take about 10 hours to cover the journey on long-established railway tracks and with several stops along the way. Officials said it could turn into a regular service after a trial period.

Kosovo State Minister Edita Tahiri on Friday accused Serbia of threatening regional stability and urged the European Union to intervene.

"This is a provocation against Kosovo, which shows that Serbia has openly come out with aggressive politics threatening Kosovo's territorial integrity and sovereignty and its national security," she said.

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Serbia on Saturday launched a railway service to Serb-dominated northern Kosovo despite protests from the government in Pristina which called it a provocation and an aggressive violation of its sovereignty.Serbian officials in Belgrade saw off a Russian-made train decorated...
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2017-56-14
Saturday, 14 January 2017 07:56 AM
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