Church, rail workers join Serb boycott in Kosovo

TheOrthodox Church and railway workers on Monday joined a Serb boycott of Kosovo following its declaration of independence from Serbia last month.

Church, rail workers join Serb boycott in Kosovo
The Church instructed all priests in the Albanian majority territory to end all contact with the capital Pristina, the European Union mission taking over supervision of Kosovo and representatives of countries that have recognised its independence on Feb 17.

The Church should "not have contact or hold any kind of discussion with representatives of these institutions or countries, nor receive them or respond to their invitations," Bishop Artemije wrote, state news agency Tanjug reported.

Over 200 Serb police officers have been suspended and handed in their weapons, badges and radios after refusing to take orders from the Kosovo Police Service command in Pristina and demanding they report only to the United Nations police.

Border posts in the Serb-dominated north have been attacked, preventing the collection of customs taxes, and Serbs are bidding to take control of the main U.N. court in the north by preventing its Albanian staff from travelling to work.

The EU's Kosovo envoy, Dutch diplomat Pieter Feith, accused Serbia on Friday of trying to sever ties between the 90-percent Albanian majority and minority Serbs, a move he said was "coming very close" to a bid for partition.

Rail workers

Early on Monday, the train travelling from Kosovo Polje in central Kosovo to Lesak in the far north was stopped at the northern Zvecan station as soon as it had crossed into Serb-dominated territory.

Around 50 Serb workers in the Kosovo Railway said they had separated from the Pristina headquarters.

"We have decided, as the northern department, to separate from the Kosovo Railway in Pristina because, for us, Zvecan is still Serbia, and will remain Serbia," said railway worker Ivan Konstadinov.

Branislav Ristivojevic, head of the state Serbian Railway company and an adviser to Serb Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, said the company would "take over responsibility" for the railway infrastructure north of Zvecan.

Serbia lost control over its then southern province in 1999, after NATO bombed to halt the killing and ethnic cleansing of Albanian civilians by Serb forces in a two-year war against Albanians.

The European Union is taking over policing and supervision of the new country, but faces a challenge to impose its rule in Serb areas, notably the north where Serbs dominate.

Serbia is saying "to rule" parts of Kosovo where "loyal citizens" continue to look to Belgrade for government.

Agencies
Last Mod: 03 Mart 2008, 17:23
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