Kosovan telecoms watchdog, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), has removed equipment belonging to Telekom Srbija from the Kosovan capital Pristina, writes AFP. The move comes only a few days after Serbia and Kosovo agreed to launch a dialogue about all outstanding issues under European Union auspices. Backed by police, workers of the TRA cut cables and removed equipment in the Serb enclaves of central and eastern Kosovo. A Telekom Srbija official said some 80,000 Serbs living in Kosovo have been left without telephone connection, either fixed or mobile. Serbia’s minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, criticised the move saying it was a ‘provocation aimed at showing that Pristina did not care about a sincere dialogue and reaching compromise’.
According to local news source BETA, the dismantling of Serbian mobile networks in Kosovo began in April, after the Pristina authorities ruled they had no permission to operate in Kosovo and paid no taxes. According to Belgrade, however, Serbian mobile operators operate under open-ended licences awarded long before 1999, while the territory was under the control of Serbian authorities.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 and has been recognised as an independent country by 70 states, including the US and 22 of 27 members of the EU. Serbia has rejected the move and still considers Kosovo its southern province.