Nato vows to protect north border of newborn Kosovo

The commander of the Nato force in Kosovo has moved swiftly to assert its authority on the newborn nation's northern border.

Lt-Gen Xavier de Marnhac, commander of the Nato-led peacekeeping force, Kfor said the posts destroyed on Tuesday would be rebuilt and re-manned. "I just want everyone to be fully aware of my determination to maintain [and] restore a safe and secure environment in Kosovo," he insisted.

While 90 per cent of Kosovo's population is Albanian, the northernmost four districts, including the divided city of Mitrovica, are overwhelmingly Serb.

On Tuesday, Kfor police manning two border posts between these four districts and Serbia were forced to hide in a tunnel as their posts were destroyed by state-sanctioned hooligans. Serbia has refused to recognise Kosovo's declaration of independence last Sunday. After the sheds were destroyed, Serbia's minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, said the action was "not nice but legitimate".

Yesterday the Serb-dominated North Mitrovica saw another protest against Kosovo's independence and against the EU mission being sent to support the fledgling state's police, judiciary and customs. But there were no reports of fresh violence.

The Serbian Foreign minister Vuk Jeremic said in Strasbourg that Serbia's relations with states recognising Kosovo's independence had been irreparably damaged. "Relations with those states cannot be as before," he insisted. "None of the countries can count on having exactly the same relations with Serbia." Serbia is withdrawing its ambassadors from countries that recognise Kosovo, including the US, Britain, France, Germany and Austria.

Mr Veremic was careful, however, to make clear that Belgrade's argument is with individual countries not with the EU as a whole – which Serbia still aspires to join before too long.

Russia – whose unexpected UN Security Council veto last year of the plan for Kosovo's "internationally supervised independence" threw the whole process of Kosovo's emancipation from UN control into disarray – continued to heap on the pressure. Its Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that the EU's mission to bolster Kosovo's police, customs and justice system was itself illegal. "The EU, unilaterally, without any approval from the UN Security Council, is sending a mission to Kosovo to provide for the rule of law," he said. "There is bitter irony ... in this, because the mission is ... being sent in violation of the highest law – in violation of international law."

The new man in the hot seat in Pristina, Dutchman Pieter Feith – who arrived on Tuesday to take up his new posts as both the EU's Special Representative in Kosovo, and the International Civilian Representative – insisted that "the EU mission is legal", and that its writ will extend throughout the country. "We are going to deploy our mission that will bring the rule of law in the coming months," he said. "We should see this as an opportunity to establish a multi-ethnic justice system also in the north."

The EU mission he will head will not be fully operational for some time, up to four months, while the International Civilian Office he will head is also in the process of coming together.

It would be surprising if these were not tense days within the embryonic EU mission, which is also bringing nearly 2,000 experts to overhaul Kosovo's police, justice and customs systems. The EU has never attempted anything half this bold before – to nurture a new country from birth to be fit for accession to the EU. Nor has it done so in the teeth not only of the rage of Russian and Serbia, but the disapproval of many EU members.

It has to do all this in circumstances that were not envisaged when the plan it is following was drawn up. The plan for Kosovo's independence was meant to be implemented once the UN Security Council had given its stamp of approval. But that never happened.

Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Advisor - East Anglia - Field-based

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: To be considered for this position you will n...

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home