Serbia ends high combat alert of army
Serbian president lifts high alert of army following the end of protests by Kosovo Serbs.
Tanjug news agency stated on Thursday that Serbia lifted the state of ‘combat readiness’ to troops positioned on the Kosovo border and that was earlier announced by the country's President Aleksandar Vucic.
Serbia placed its security forces on the border with Kosovo, on Monday, in a “full state of combat readiness” according to senior officials, amid increasingly strained relations with Kosovo.
“Serbia’s president … ordered the Serbian army to be on the highest level of combat readiness, that is to the level of the use of armed force,” Serbia’s Defence Minister Milos Vucevic said in a statement.
Serbia's Director of the Office for Kosovo Petar Petkovic stated on Wednesday that President Aleksandar Vucic called on Serbs living in Kosovo to terminate protests.
The Serbian President also reassured protestors that they will not be "prosecuted or arrested" after receiving guarantees from the EU and the US.
On December 10, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Serbia will send the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) mission command a formal request for authorization to deploy Serbian military and police in Kosovo, despite the likeliness of being rejected.
Serbs in Kosovo's northern part were blocking roads using barricades to protest the arrest of former police officer Dejan Pantic, who was released from custody on Wednesday and placed under house arrest.
The main border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia was back open on Thursday as tensions between the two countries eased after reaching record levels and drawing calls from the international community to de-escalate the situation.
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Belgrade dismantled the barricades erected on its side of the Merdare border crossing, with Pristina saying that its crossing was open after unprecedented tensions.
Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia rose after the Kosovo Government demanded local Serbs to re-register their car plates, demanding that they feature the EU-standard letter code of RKS instead of KM, the Serbian identifier for the disputed region of Kosovska Mitrovica on the border, with past October 31 as the deadline for the re-registration.
Serbs in northern Kosovo resigned from public institutions in protest over the row on vehicle number plates.
However, the main reason for the tension is the 2008 declaration of independence of Kosovo which Serbia does not recognize and encourages the Serb minority to remain loyal to Belgrade.