PRIŠTINA — Kosovo Albanian PM Hashim Thaci said on Wednesday that the agreement with Belgrade on customs stamps would be implemented starting September 16.
He added that, with regard to the north of Kosovo – populated by Serbs who reject the authority of his government – this would mean “deploying Kosovo customs officers, border police and members of EULEX” at administrative line crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak, which he referred to as “checkpoints 1 and 31”.
He said that “northern Kosovo residents should remain calm as the measures would not be directed against them, but would rather represent “enforcement of the law and the Constitution of Kosovo.”
At a press conference after the government session, Thaci said that Priština’s government “decided to put the agreement fully into force on September 16”, but added “only checkpoint 31 would be functional at first, as works to improve the infrastructure would be underway at checkpoint 1”.
He added that Priština’s institutions would take “a major role in the process”.
Thaci went on to state hat the responsibility for establishing complete control of the Jarinje and Brnjak posts would be assumed by Kosovo police and customs “under the Constitution and laws of Kosovo,” with the support of EULEX and KFOR.
“We will also increase the control along the green belt in the north, to gain control over all alternative routes. The measure also provides for the control of railway traffic on the route Belgrade-(Kosovska) Mitrovica,” he added.
Thaci said that “all citizens living in the north would be informed about the implementation of the measures”, adding that “citizens of Serbia” would also be notified.
“I think it is in Serbia’s interest to inform its citizens about the implementation of the agreement with Kosovo, lest we should witness wrong interpretations, as anyone who wants to trade and import goods in Kosovo will have to respect the rules of Kosovo in the future,” he said.
He announced “a change of the way of conducting controls at all crossings in line with European standards”, adding that the Priština government would “always bear in mind the circumstances and decisions regarding reciprocity measures”.
“This will result in a new situation, and in addition to establishing control at the posts 1 and 31, we will send everyone a clear message about the preservation of our territorial integrity. Kosovo customs and border police officers and, of course, members of EULEX and KFOR, will be placed at the crossings,” he added.
Thaci asserted that “all revenues from the crossings would be filling the budget of Kosovo and that the money would be spent in accordance with the laws in force in Kosovo”.
“We have close cooperation with EULEX and KFOR. We have taken measures to rehabilitate the Jarinje crossing, in terms of logistics and also the operation of the crossing No. 31, he said, adding that all goods subject to excise tax payment will be cleared by customs.”
This will, continued he, “finally put an end to illegal trade and smuggling”.
Thaci concluded by stating that the agreement on customs stamps reached with Belgrade was a sign that what he referred to as “the neighboring country of Serbia” was “beginning to recognize” Kosovo.