Some 200 people blocked the road leading to the village of Banje on Sunday, September 9, preventing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic's planned visit to the area. Protesters, denouncing Serbia's role in the 1998-99 Kosovo War and demanding that Vucic apologize for "crimes committed and massacres all over Kosovo," reportedly burned tires and wood and obstructed the road with trucks and heavy machinery. Related protests and demonstrations, including the use of roadblocks, are possible in Kosovo in the coming days and weeks.
The demonstration and roadblock comes as Serbian President Vucic visited Kosovo to articulate that he seeks to reach a compromise deal to resolve outstanding issues with the country to move both toward EU membership. In 2013, both countries signed on to EU-brokered negotiations which aim to resolve such issues and result in mutual recognition; notably, Serbian and Kosovar representatives have expressed interest in negotiating land swaps between their countries, in which Serbia would receive Serb-dominated areas of northern Kosovo and Kosovo would receive Albanian-dominated areas of southern Serbia.
Serbian-Kosovar relations remain tense a decade after the country declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo maintains a large Serbian minority that largely supports reintegration with Serbia.
Individuals in Kosovo, and particularly those in the Banje area, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all demonstrations as a precaution, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
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