Kosovo PM backs deadly move into Serb-run north

Kosovo`s PM has defended an order for his special police to take control of two contested border crossings with Serbia.

Last Updated: Jul 27, 2011, 11:13 AM IST

Pristina: Kosovo`s Prime Minister
has defended an order for his special police to take control
of two contested border crossings with Serbia, saying it was
"the right decision" despite condemnation from the European

Hashim Thaci said the operation in which a member of the
police unit died and four others were slightly injured was a
"concrete step in establishing the rule of law" in the
volatile north.

"We cannot remain indifferent and allow that a part of
our territory remains a black hole, not only for Kosovo, but
for Europe as well," Thaci told reporters. He did not respond
to questions.

Lightly armed special police units crossed into the
Serb-run north late on Monday and early Tuesday in an operation
aimed at placing troops loyal to the capital Pristina in a
region that takes orders from Serbia as part of Belgrade`s
ongoing campaign to undermine Kosovo`s 2008 secession.

Serb officials want Kosovo`s ethnic Albanian police to
fully withdraw from the Serb-run north and leave Serb members
of the force to man the border crossings.

Pristina, however, wants to assert control over the
north and enforce a ban on goods from Serbia to counter years
of a similar boycott by Belgrade in response to Kosovo`s 2008
secession which Serbia does not recognise.

Monday`s move by Kosovo`s police unit was met with
condemnation from the European Union. It said the police
action was done unilaterally and the 27-member bloc did not
approve, while its 3,000-strong rule of law mission was quick
to distance itself from the action.

In Washington, President Barack Obama`s administration
criticised Kosovo for taking control of the crossings without
coordinating with the international community, but he fell
short of condemning the action itself.

The overnight operation has highlighted lingering
differences within international organisations struggling to
act together in Kosovo`s north.