Serbia revokes the combat readiness of its troops as tension with Kosovo ease

Serbia on Thursday revoked the combat readiness of its troops on the border with Kosovo as local Serbs started removing more than a dozen of the roadblocks they had set up in the north of the state.

Earlier Thursday, Kosovo reopened a border crossing with Serbia after a nearby barricade that led to its closure was first removed. Later, ethnic Serbs in Kosovo dismantled another roadblock and more are set to follow.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced late Wednesday that Serbs would start removing their barricades. The move defuses weeks of tensions between former war foes Kosovo and Serbia.

The European Union, which both Serbia and Kosovo are seeking to join, welcomed the developments.

“Diplomacy prevailed in de-escalating tensions in north Kosovo,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. “Violence can never be a solution.”

Kosovo has a majority ethnic Albanian population. And it is a former Serbian province, but Belgrade does not recognize it.

Kosovo had demanded that NATO-led peacekeepers remove the barricades, and it said its forces would do it otherwise. Serbia then raised combat readiness of its troops on the border, demanding an end to “attacks” against Kosovo Serbs.

The state RTS television said that the Serbian army abolished the high alert of its troops near the Kosovo border after the agreement to remove the barricades. This deal was reached at a late-night crisis meeting with the leaders of Kosovo's Serbs, Vucic said.

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