Kosovo Thursday reopened the largest point of border crossing to Serbia following calls from the international community to deescalate rapidly rising tensions between the two countries. Serbian protesters removed barricades along the border crossing following a Wednesday night meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. Serbian media also reported that Monday’s order to increase Serbian Army’s combat readiness was revoked.Despite the removal of the barricades, Vučić insisted in agreement with the Serbian protesters that Kosovo is still a part of Serbia, reiterating the country’s position on the nonrecognition of Kosovo’s independence. Serbian protesters erected the barricades, which have caused restrictions on both trade and peacekeeping movements.Speaking of the protesters along Kosovo’s northern border, Vučić said they were his “brothers and sisters” and that he would continue to fight for them. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani described the situation along the border as very dangerous, then said without explanation that this was “because the lives of our policemen, [NATO’s Kosovo mission] KFOR soldiers, [EU rule-of-law mission] EULEX personnel, and above all civilians may be at risk.” Both Osmani and Vučić described recent events as “difficult.”Head of the UN Mission in Kosovo Caroline Ziadeh welcomed the barricade removal. That said, Ziadeh stressed “the importance of upholding commitments and resuming talks to fully address outstanding issues and normalize relations without delay.”The dispute along Kosovo’s northern border is just the latest in a series of events which have drawn international concern. Along with blocking border crossing points, there have also been a series of attacks on journalists stationed in the area. Tensions have risen in Kosovo’s north between minority Serbs and majority Kosovo Albanians over recent political events. Though Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 following a civil war, Serbia has never recognized Kosovo’s sovereignty. NATO maintains around 4,000 peacekeepers and support staff in Kosovo.

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