When the so-called Serbian New Year (what we call Old New Year) was being celebrated, an unusual train left Belgrade for Mitrovica, Kosovo. No trains have been following this route for 18 years, since the times of war.
Serbia bought the Belgrade-Mitrovica train in Russia.
The Serbian tricolor and huge inscriptions “Kosovo is Serbia” in 21 languages were painted on the cars.
Inside the cars, passengers could see the photos of four Orthodox monasteries, UNESCO world heritage sites, on the territory of Kosovo.
But the “manifestation on wheels” stopped on the Serbia-Kosovo border because of what Serbia’s Prime Minister Alekdandar Vucic called risk of clashes.
As Vucic said at an extraordinary press conference, Kosovo commandos had tried to demolish a part of the railway track but local Serbs came and surrounded the special-purpose unit. The Albanians then sent 17 armored vehicles with commando soldiers to this place. “So I decided to stop the train in order to save the freedom and life of our people,” the Serbian prime minister explained.
“My message to the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija is that they should stay behind in their houses. I also appeal to the Albanians not to try to make armed attacks on Serbian people in Kosovo because Serbia will not tolerate this,” Vucic said.
The train stopped at Raska, the last Serbian station on the way to Kosovo.
“We were yesterday on the verge of a conflict with provisional institutions in Pristina,” Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said the next day after a National Security Council session at the Serbian army’s headquarters. He referred to the deployment of Kosovo commandos as “a sign that the Albanians want a war” and said that Serbia was ready to send its armed forces to Kosovo and Metohija if the province’s Serbian population faced a danger.
“It is not our war, but we will send the army, if necessary, to defend the Serbs,” Nikolic said, answering the questions of journalists.
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Isa Mustafa immediately responded to the Serbian leader’s statement. “The Kosovo Serbs enjoy equal rights in our republic. They do not need to be protected by Belgrade… because they are not in danger,” he wrote on his Facebook page. In his words, what Serbia and Kosovo need is “cooperation and a joint effort to have a European future.” “All the problems with neighbors should be resolved by way of a dialog. I think the times of provocations, conflicts, and wars are in the past,” Mustafa pointed out.
President Hashim Thaci of Kosovo tweeted in his turn: “Good neighbors do not hinder one another with extremist actions – they speak.”
“Non-pro-Serbian” media in the region note that the “Kosovo is Serbia” train is nothing but a provocation which, unfortunately, became another sign of an aggravated overall situation in the Balkans.