After weeks of escalating tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, the Serbs put their army on high alert. The Serbian Defense Minister said that the army was ready to use force if necessary.
The number of special forces will also be increased from 1,500 to 5,000 soldiers. This contradicts the call of the NATO peacekeeping mission in the region. NATO called Monday to avoid escalation.
The military coalition responded to an incident in northern Kosovo. Shots were fired near a NATO patrol on Sunday. No one was hurt in the process. Who exactly fired it and why is still under investigation.
Tensions have simmered between Serbia and Kosovo since 2008. That year, Kosovo declared independence, but Serbia continued to consider Kosovo its own territory. This leads to great tensions, particularly in northern Kosovo, because many Serbs live there.
Unrest has increased in recent weeks, after hundreds of Serb employees of the police and the judiciary in Kosovo left their jobs. They did so in protest of a controversial decision license plates. Plates issued in Serbia will be banned in Kosovo. This policy was eventually rescinded, but the genie was already out of the bottle by then.
Tensions then escalated when Kosovo announced it would hold local elections in December in municipalities where Serbs form the majority. Because of all the protests, that election was pushed back to April.
Subsequently, a Serbian ex-police officer was arrested in Kosovo on December 10. The arrest angered the Serbs. They set up roadblocks, paralyzing traffic around two border crossings.
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