Kosovo refuses to allow Serbian minister's entry
Kosovo police refused to allow a Serbian minister to visit a Serb-dominated town and escorted him back to the border.
Kosovo police refused to allow a Serbian minister to visit a Serb-dominated town and escorted him back to the border on Wednesday, saying he had not sought permission beforehand.
Kosovo's Albanian majority backed by the Western countries declared independence in 2008 nine years after Serbia moved ethnic cleansing in a 1998-1999 war. Nato stopped the Serbian forces in a 78-day bombing.
Serbia's Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, was turned back while attempting to enter the eastern town of Strpce, a Reuters witness said.
"I am not here to start a new war or to organise Serbs to make protests or violence," Bogdanovic told Kosovo police when they informed him of the government's decision.
Last week, Serbian President Boris Tadic, speaking during Christmas festivities in a Kosovo monastery, said he would like to see Kosovo join the European Union as part of Serbia.
Pristina criticised Tadic for making political speeches during a festive visit to a religious site, and said it may ban him from entering the country in future.
Since the government in Pristina in 2008 decided Serbian officials must seek permission before entering Kosovo, Belgrade representatives have visited the roughly 120,000 ethnic Serbs there less frequently.
Kosovo is recognized as an independent state by 62 countries from mostly European Union and also Muslim countries around world such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia.
Serb forces killed an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 civilians in Kosovo in 1998-99, the great majority Albanians.
Reuters Last Mod: 14 Ocak 2010, 08:15