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Border intervention

August 5, 2011

After days of deadlocked talks, NATO and representatives from Kosovo and Serbia have struck a deal that will ease tensions at border crossings. The deal sees NATO troops controlling the crossings for the time being.

Erhard Bühler (right) and Borislav Stefanovic
Bühler (right) and Stefanovic came to an agreementImage: picture alliance/dpa

NATO's peacekeeping mission to Kosovo has brokered a deal to end a two-week standoff between Belgrade and Pristina in Kosovo's Serb-dominated North. Talks had been deadlocked for days, but on Friday, the commander of the NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) mission, German General Erhard Bühler, found common ground with Belgrade's negotiator Borislav Stefanovic.

As part of the compromise, KFOR troops are to retain control of two disputed control posts at the Serbia-Kosovo border, at least until mid-September. NATO troops were forced to step in when one of the border stations was set on fire and bulldozed, after Kosovar Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's government attempted to take control of the two crossing posts last month.

Trade embargo still in place

The conflict centers on Kosovo's trade embargo with Serbia, which Thaci said would remain in place for the time being. The two border crossings were taken over by forces from Kosovo because the trade embargo was being ignored by ethnic Serb members of Kosovo's border police.

When the security forces moved in, one ethnic Albanian police officer was killed and four people were injured in the clashes that followed before the KFOR troops intervened.

KFOR's presence at the border posts will continue until Belgrade and Pristina resume EU-brokered talks on a free trade agreement, which are scheduled for September.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Nicole Goebel