Crossing point between Serbia and Kosovo. Photo: BIRN.

Kosovo Calls on Citizens To Avoid Serbia Travel Amid Reported Border Blockage

Kosovo advises its citizens to avoid traveling through Serbia “at all costs" after its Liaisons' office in Serbia reported that around 300 people in four buses from Kosovo were blocked at midnight at the Serbia Croatia border crossing in Batrovci, which Serbia denies.

The Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora and the Ministry of Internal Affairs called on Wednesday for Kosovo citizens to avoid Serbian border crossings at all costs. The call comes  after reports that Kosovo citizens are being blocked at Serbia’s border crossings.

The recommendation to avoid traveling through Serbia came after the Secretary of the Liaison Office of Kosovo in Belgrade, Fatmir Haxholli, announced that the border authorities of Serbia have blocked around 300 citizens of Kosovo at the “Batrovci” border crossing between Serbia and Croatia. 

“The blocking of over 300 citizens, keeping their passports and travel documents, is a flagrant violation not only of the Brussels agreements, but also of universal human rights guaranteed by all international conventions. Only the most authoritarian regimes block travelers from another country, with the explanation ‘this is an order from Belgrade’”, Haxholli wrote on Facebook, notingadding that the Serbian liaison office is not communicating with the liaison office in Kosovo.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all passengers’ personal documents as well as those of the buses were taken. Additionally, the ministry has stated that some of the passengers have been taken and are still being interrogated.

In response to this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora has promptly alerted EU member states, EU institutions, and other international bodies, urging their swift intervention to address the situation.

“After Serbia’s arbitrary actions, our institutions, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora have notified the QUINT states, the EU and other international institutions about this situation and we expect this situation to end quickly”, read the ministry’s statement.

“This retaliatory action … which comes after the failure of propaganda against the membership of the Republic of Kosovo in the Council of Europe, must urgently receive the deserved response from the international community”, the statement added.

The Serbian Ministry of Interior denied deliberately holding buses from Kosovo on its border, calling the Kosovo Government’s allegations “unfounded”.

“The control of all passengers at the border crossings is being strengthened and security checks are being carried out, all with the aim of greater safety and security of citizens, which may cause a longer stay at the border crossing itself”,  said the ministry in its press release.

The tourist company “Barileva Turist” told BIRN that there is also a blockage at the “Horgosh” border crossing between Serbia and Hungary. According to the company, they are currently waiting for the release of their buses.

“There is nothing to worry about. We are in procedural waiting. I believe that the competent authorities have a report or something about the release of the buses. We are waiting too. The passengers are fine and we are in contact with our colleagues – the drivers, who are waiting like any other car”, the company told BIRN.

17/04/2024 - 16:49

17 April 2024 - 16:49

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