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'Kosovo is Serbian,' New Train from Belgrade to North Kosovo Announces

© AFP 2022 / ARMEND NIMANIA Kosovo Albanian man sells flags in Pristina on February 16, 2011 in preparation for the third anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence
A Kosovo Albanian man sells flags in Pristina on February 16, 2011 in preparation for the third anniversary of Kosovo's declaration of independence - Sputnik International
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Serbian authorities have sent a tricked-out train bearing slogans inside and out to a Serbian-dominated area of Kosovo, an act Kosovo authorities are calling aggressive and provocative.

The train is emblazoned with the phrase "Kosovo is Serbian" in 21 languages, including Albanian, and is decorated inside with images of Serbian-built monasteries and churches. Hostesses on the train wear uniforms in the colors of the Serbian flag.

Ramush Haradinaj - Sputnik International
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"This is like a mobile exhibition presenting our cultural heritage!" Marko Djuric, head of the Serbian government's office for Kosovo, said of the rolling statement, ABC News reported. He also warned that any attempt to block the train from entering Kosovo would be a violation of freedom of movement.

And anyway, "I don't see why something that is part of world heritage would present a provocation for anyone," Djuric asserted.

Djuric's deputy and the director of the Serbian national railway company were to take part in the 10-hour journey northward.

Kosovo, now mostly Muslim and Albanian-speaking, declared independence in 2008, nearly a decade after the end of a brief and bloody war with the forces of then-Serbia and Montenegro, and is recognized as such by the US and much of the EU.

Serbia, however, does not recognize the independence of its former province.

The January 14 promotional tour was the first train ride from Belgrade to Mitrovica since the end of the war, Deutsche Welle reports.

​Kosovo State Minister Edita Tahiri called the train "illegal" January 13 and accused Serbia of undermining regional stability.

"This is a provocation against Kosovo, which shows that Serbia has openly come out with aggressive politics threatening Kosovo's territorial integrity and sovereignty and its national security," she said. She asked the EU to get involved in the matter.

Belgrade announced that it was considering setting up a regular train service to Kosovska Mitrovic, a Serbian dominated area in the mostly-Muslim young nation. A temporary service will be launched later this month and will run through much of February; a decision on whether to make the service permanent will be made later.

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