• Bulldozers demolish a wall following weeks of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

Serb bulldozers demolish wall in Mitrovica, Kosovo

Tensions are still high in Kosovo

Serbs in Kosovo demolished a wall with bulldozers on Sunday in the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica, following weeks of tension over the issue between Kosovo and Serbia.
The Serbs, who do not recognize Kosovo as a state, started constructing the wall in December, saying it was to protect against a landslip. However, the Pristina government said the structure was an attempt to further divide the city along ethnic lines and should be destroyed.
Kosovo, backed by the U.S. and major western European states, declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Belgrade considers it part of its territory and supports the Serb minority.

Bulldozers demolish a wall following weeks of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia, in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica, Kosovo February 5, 2017. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

The deal to destroy the two-meter tall concrete wall was reached following EU-mediated talks between the government in Pristina and Serb representatives. The site was guarded by Italian Carabinieri as part of the NATO mission that still has a force stationed in Kosovo to keep the fragile peace.
Visiting the demolition site the European Union representative in Kosovo, Nataliya Apostolova, said: “I can assure (you) there will no walls here … this shows that both parties can reach a deal when there is a political will.”
Kosovo Albanians make up more than 90 percent of Kosovo’s 1.8 million population. Northern Kosovo is home to a Serb minority of around 40,000 to 50,000 people. After the 1999 NATO bombings with the pretext of protecting the Albanian population from the Serbs, the situation changed swiftly and the Kosovo Albanian started a low profile ethnically cleansing of the Kosovo Serbs, if no response this time from the West.