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UNMIK takes back the rail line in Kosovo North (Or How Branislav Ristovojevic Now Has To Eat His Shorts)

Let the game of ping pong officially begin. 

Yesterday, it was reported in most major news outlets that the Serbian government “reclaimed” a 50-kilometer stretch of rail line in northern Kosovo. train.jpg One of many lapdogs for Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, the always entertaining Branislav Ristivojevic (chairman of Serbia’s state-owned railroad company), proclaimed with great gusto and bravado that the Serbian government was “restoring control” over the stretch of rail line.

Apparently, Mr. Ristivojevic’s heroic pronouncement proved short-lived.  This morning, the United Nations Mission in Kosovo “reasserted control” of this 50-kilometer stretch of rail line in northern Kosovo.

Fortunately, all of this happened without either fanfare or incident.  Border Police at the train station in Leshak simply explained to an employee of Serbian Railways that the train would not be allowed to travel south.  The railway company said, “Okay,” and that was that.

Sorry guys.  No drama.  No shots fired.  Not even an argument.  Maybe the representative from Serbian Railways forgot what Mr. Ristivojevic had said less than 24 hours earlier. 

Of course, let’s see what tomorrow brings.

“The successful intervention of UNMIK Border Police today reverses the challenge to UNMIK’s authority that occurred yesterday when Serbian Railways illegally sent two of its trains south of Leshak/Lešak,” said Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Kosovo (SRSG) Joachim Rücker.

“Any movement of trains south of Leshak/Lešak by Serbian Railways is a clear challenge to UNMIK’s authority as well as a breach of the 2003 Memorandum of Understanding that Yugoslav Railways signed with UNMIK Railways and will not be tolerated,” the SRSG said

“UNMIK and its partners will continue to meet any challenges to law and order throughout Kosovo,” the SRSG said.

The above-quoted section was from an UNMIK press release.

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One response to “UNMIK takes back the rail line in Kosovo North (Or How Branislav Ristovojevic Now Has To Eat His Shorts)

  1. Here’s an update from Kontakt Plus radio on the rail story (March 5, 2008):

    “Railroad representative Zoran Bogavac on Wednesday said that Serbian KPS would secure rail lines in Kosovo North as of today. After meeting with UNMIK police representatives in Mitrovica North, Bogavac told Radio Kontakt Plus that it was agreed that only Serbian KPS would secure the railroad.

    The train from Kosovo Polje did arrive for the second day today, although this is the only transport line between Kosovo North, Serbia and central Kosovo.

    “There are no major changes compared to yesterday and day before. The traffic has been stopped, we are not in contact with UNMIK railroad although we are trying to get in touch with them,” Bogavac said.

    “Repair of the railway track to Lesak is in progress and the works are in the final stage, so we are expecting now a move from UNMIK Railways,” Bogavac said.

    UNMIK reported on Tuesday that it had regained control of the railway from Zvecan to Lesak.
    Some hundred railroad workers rallied again this morning in Zvecan in support of the action of Serbian Railroad company. The protest will continue tomorrow.

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