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EU to set up international court for Kosovo war crimes

The European Union said on Saturday it plans to set up an international court in Kosovo to deal with alleged crimes committed by ethnic-Albanian guerrillas during the war with Serbia. "The EU is not proposing to establish a tribunal, but rather a specialist court within the Kosovo court system," the bloc's Pristina office said in a statement sent to AFP. "This court would have a seat in Kosovo, but sensitive proceedings, including hearing of witnesses, would take place outside of the country in view of the nature of the allegations," the EU said.

NATO reopens Kosovo airspace for civilian overflights

NATO said Friday it has reopened the upper airspace over Kosovo for civilian traffic 15 years after the war, enabling commercial flights to take more direct routes across the Balkans. "The reopening of the airspace will lead to shorter flight routes in the region, generating significant cost savings for airspace users and environmental benefits," said a statement from the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, KFOR.

Serb border policemen wounded in Kosovo ambush

Three ethnic Serb border officers were wounded, one seriously, when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in northern Kosovo, police said Tuesday. "Their vehicle was ambushed and came under fire while it was on a road heading towards the border" with Serbia late Monday, police spokesman Besim Hoti told AFP. The attack occurred near the village of Banja in the north of the territory whose ethnic Serb majority refuses to recognise Kosovo's 2008 unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.

Don't use our case to justify Crimea, Kosovo PM tells Russia

By Fatos Bytyci PRISTINA (Reuters) - Russia should stop using the case of Kosovo's independence from Serbia to justify its Crimea incursion because the two cannot be compared, Kosovo's Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said on Thursday. Russian leader Vladimir Putin has criticised Western nations for what he called hypocrisy, saying they had endorsed Kosovo's right to self-determination and independence from Serbia but now deny Crimeans the right to leave Ukraine.

Kosovo to create own army to 'protect sovereignty'

Kosovo's government proposed on Thursday creating a 5,000-strong army to "protect sovereignty" of the ethnic Albanian territory, six years after it seceded from Serbia. The army would double the size of the current civil emergency Kosovo security force (KPS), said a statement issued after a cabinet session. Since the end of 1998-1999 war between independent-seeking ethnic Albanian guerrillas and Belgrade forces under the command of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, NATO has been in charge of maintaining peace and security in Kosovo.

Kosovo to create national army of 5,000 soldiers

By Fatos Bytyci PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo's government ordered the creation of a national army on Tuesday by upgrading a lightly armed civil response force six years after the majority-Albanian country seceded from Serbia. The army will comprise 5,000 active soldiers and 3,000 reservists for a landlocked country of 1.7 million people bordering Serbia, Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia.

Football: Kosovo get ready for international bow

Kosovo are gearing up for their FIFA-approved debut on the international scene when they play a friendly match against Haiti, the first in their six-year history as an independent state. "This match will break the ice, it is the end of isolation" of Kosovo in international football, their federation (FFK) chairman Fadil Vokrri told AFP ahead of the match. The match against Haiti will overcome a long impasse that saw Kosovar teams in all sports internationally isolated after Pristina unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008.

Kosovo Serbs vote again to elect flashpoint town mayor

Voters in the Serb-dominated part of Kosovo's flashpoint town of Kosovska Mitrovica returned to polls Sunday to elect a mayor after the one elected in December refused to take over. Kosovo local elections, whose first round was held in November, were the first in which ethnic Serbs living in its north, encouraged by Serbia, took part since Pristina proclaimed independence from Belgrade in 2008. No incidents were reported during Sunday's elections, for which an important number of EU police and NATO soldiers was deployed.

After slow start, Albania and Kosovo look to potential as partners

By Benet Koleka and Fatos Bytyci TIRANA/PRISTINA (Reuters) - Shortly after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia six years ago, neighboring Albania said it would bequeath its Adriatic port of Shengjin to its landlocked ethnic kin. The port, nestled on a scenic bay, is "the closest to Kosovo," about 125 km (77 miles) away, a poster in the office of Shengjin manager Gjovalin Tusha helpfully points out.

Kosovo marks independence amid better ties with Serbia

Kosovo on Monday celebrated six years of independence marked by a historic improvement of ties with former foe Serbia, which was coaxed along by an EU-brokered deal last year. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci told a special parliamentary session that "our vision of an independent Kosovo is one of a democratic country... ready to find its place within the family of free nations". Several thousand people gathered in flag-bedecked streets in Kosovo's capital Pristina to watch a military and police parade to be followed by a fireworks display.
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