Belgrade, Dec 29 (EFE).- Protesting Serbs will start removing barricades blocking the north of Kosovo on Thursday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said, in a move to de-escalate rising ethnic tensions in the Balkans.
The Kosovo Serbs erected the barricades that blocked roads for nearly three weeks after the arrest of a former Kosovo Serb policeman, Dejan Pantic, on Dec. 10.
Pantic has been ordered freed from prison but placed under house arrest.
Vucic said the removal of the barricades would begin before Thursday noon.
“It is not a simple process,” he said, adding it could not be done in two hours.
“The barricades will be removed within 24 to 48 hours, but the distrust is not removed.”
He said that those who think they could play with the lives of Serbs and their survival should know that “we have not allowed it until now and we will not allow it in the future either.”
Vucic announced the decision in the Serbian town of Raska after meeting Serbs from northern Kosovo, Serbian public television RTS reported.
The Serbian president said the representatives of the protesting Serbs insisted that they had no confidence in Pristina.
He said they told him that if the harassment and arrests continued, they would “forever close northern Kosovo.”
They alleged that the Kosovo government policies were increasingly discriminatory against the ethnic minority and accused Pristina of curbing their rights.
Vucic said he had received guarantees from the United States and the European Union that the demands of Serbians would be met. EFE