Serbs dismantle barricades as Kosovo standoff eases
Serbs started dismantling barricades in northern Kosovo on Thursday, hours after Kosovo reopened its main border crossing with Serbia, easing a surge in tensions that has alarmed world powers.
Serbia also ended a three-day-old state of alert for its troops, Tanjug news agency reported, as the sides showed signs of bowing to pressure from the European Union and the United States to step back from a mounting confrontation.
"Diplomacy prevailed in de-escalating tensions in north Kosovo. Violence can never be a solution," European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted.
"Urgent progress in dialogue" was still needed to resolve outstanding issues between Belgrade and Pristina, he added.
Around 50,000 Serbs living in northern Kosovo refuse to recognise the government in Pristina or the status of Kosovo as a separate country. They have the support of many Serbs in Serbia and its government.
The latest peak in the long-running standoff came as Serbs in northern Kosovo started erecting roadblocks on Dec. 10 in protest at the arrest of a former Serb policeman.
They agreed to start dismantling the barricades after the former policeman was moved from detention to house arrest on Wednesday.
Protesters started removing trucks from a barricade in the northern village of Rudare on Thursday afternoon, Reuters drone footage showed. Serbian media said another two barricades had been removed near northern Kosovo's Gazivode lake.