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Kosovo stops Serbian trucks carrying ballots at border

Kosovo police said on Saturday they had stopped seizing documents that Serbia had sent to allow the Serbian ethnic minority to take part in a referendum.

A statement said a car and two trucks were stopped at the Merdare border crossing point with Serbia a day earlier. The trucks were confiscated while six people in the vehicles were turned away.

Serbia is holding a referendum on Sunday on amendments aimed at bolstering the independence of its judiciary as part of reforms needed to bring the country closer to joining the European Union.

Belgrade wants its Kosovo Serb ethnic minority to participate.

But authorities in Kosovo say ethnic Serbs in its territory can only vote by mail or at a liaison office, ignoring the past practice of setting up polling stations in predominantly Serb areas.

A statement issued Friday by Kosovo’s highest authorities said Kosovo’s laws “do not recognize the right of a state to hold a referendum on the sovereign territory of another state”, adding that “the practices applied so far ‘now since 2012 are unconstitutional’.

The decision is likely to further strain relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move Belgrade has refused to recognize.

Serbia has insisted that Kosovo remains part of the country, despite its declaration of independence following a 1998-99 conflict that killed some 13,000 people and ended after NATO bombed Serbia to stop its crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.

Serbia has maintained a strong influence in Serb-dominated areas of Kosovo where tens of thousands of Serbs live, although it officially has no authority over the territory.

The dispute between Serbia and Kosovo remains a source of tension in the Balkans. EU-mediated negotiations aimed at normalizing relations produced little progress, although Kosovo and Serbia were urged to resolve their differences in order to move forward with their application for membership. the EU.

euronews Gt

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