Kosovo ejects Serbian minister

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Originally published
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13 Jan 2010 15:57:51 GMT

Source: Reuters

STRPCE, Kosovo, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Kosovo police refused to allow a Serbian minister to visit a Serb-dominated town and escorted him back to the border on Wednesday, saying he had not sought permission beforehand.

Serbia's Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, was turned back while attempting to enter the eastern town of Strpce, a Reuters witness said.

"I am not here to start a new war or to organise Serbs to make protests or violence," Bogdanovic told Kosovo police when they informed him of the government's decision. "I am here to talk with my people about how to live together with Albanian neighbours."

Serbia still considers Kosovo, where 90 percent are ethnic Albanians, part of its territory, two years after its former southern province declared independence.

Last week, Serbian President Boris Tadic, speaking during Christmas festivities in a Kosovo monastery, said he would like to see Kosovo join the European Union as part of Serbia. [ID:nBYT641987]

Pristina criticised Tadic for making political speeches during a festive visit to a religious site, and said it may ban him from entering the country in future.

Since the government in Pristina in 2008 decided Serbian officials must seek permission before entering Kosovo, Belgrade representatives have visited the roughly 120,000 ethnic Serbs there less frequently. (Reporting by Branislav Krstic, Writing by Fatos Bytyci, editing by Adam Tanner and Robin Pomeroy)

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