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Kosovo says it will bar Serbian PM visits for 'racist' comments

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AFP Pristina
Kosovo's foreign minister said Thursday he would ban visits by Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic after she made "racist" comments, fanning fresh tensions between the neighbours.
"I will not allow the Serbian prime minister to enter Kosovo as long as she maintains a racist and illicit ideology against the people of Kosovo," Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli wrote on his Facebook.
The move comes a day after the Serbian prime minister described Kosovo's leadership as "the worst type of populists" and "people who literally came out of forest".
The latter was a reference to the fact that many top Kosovo politicians were former fighters in the guerilla war against Serbia in the late 1990s.
"These people are terrorists who were not convicted," Brnabic added.
Serbia and its former province, which is mainly ethnic Albanian, still have a bitter and frequently tense relationship two decades after Kosovo broke away and went on to declare independence.
Long-running negotiations to normalise ties have ground to a halt in recent months after a series of diplomatic clashes.
While Serbian officials almost never go to Kosovo's capital they do regularly visit its predominantly Serb areas -- for which Pristina usually grants them authorisation.
Tensions were already high this week after Kosovo police conducted a major operation on Tuesday in the Serb-dominated north, an area where many still consider themselves loyal to Belgrade.
Dozens were arrested on suspicion of running a smuggling network in the border zone. The police raids, which were met with "armed resistance" in some areas, led Serbia to put its army on alert.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci also condemned Brnabic's comments, telling media it was "another testimony of the pathological hate of Serbia's current regime against the citizens of Kosovo".
Like Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj and parliament speaker Kadri Veseli, Thaci is a former leader of the Kosovar Albanian guerrillas who fought Serb troops in the 1998-99 war.
The conflict left 13,000 dead, mostly ethnic Albanians.

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First Published: May 30 2019 | 9:25 PM IST

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