US KFOR soldiers at the Serbia-Kosovo border crossing of Jarinje, July 31 2011.
Border checkpoints between Kosovo and Serbia that have been at the centre of violent clashes and heightened tensions in the past week have re-opened, local media reported, while the European Union is to send a mediator to try to help resolve the crisis.
The mediator is Robert Cooper, who in recent months has been facilitating dialogue between Belgrade and Priština – dialogue that was postponed until September after Kosovo wanted to display state symbols at the most recent scheduled bilateral meetings, which in turn was followed by the clash at the border.
Tensions ratcheted up after Kosovo said that it was imposing a trade embargo on Serbia, which put a trade embargo in place after the February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence in Priština.
Serbia’s parliament, in a late-night sitting on July 31, approved a resolution calling for a peaceful resolution to the border crisis.
The resolution affirms the Serbian government's obligation to request international missions, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244, not to allow unilateral activities by Priština institutions which jeopardise peace, stability, and the possibility of finding a compromise solution, and alter the existing situation in the field.
The resolution supported continued dialogue with Priština, with the aim of finding solutions to concrete problems of Serbs in Kosovo.
The situation at the border, which earlier resulted in the death of a Kosovo police officer, also raised concerns that ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo would be left without essential supplies such as food.
Serbian media said that the Jarinje and Brnjak border checkpoints reopened late on July 31. They had been closed since July 29, as peacekeeping force KFOR stepped up operations in response to the crisis.
On July 31, passenger cars were being cleared through Brnjak by 6.30pm, which remained closed to trucks and goods.
Three hours later, at about 9.30pm., the other checkpoint in Jarinje reopened for passenger cars, Belgrade-based news agency Beta said. Leposavic municipal chief Branko Ninic hailed Jarinje's reopening as a good move by the international community.
Senior Serbian officials arrived at the border on July 31 for talks with the local ethnic Serb community and with KFOR top officers.