Monday, September 27, 2010

Kosovo - Authorities are removing equipment installed by Telekom Srbija in a dispute over who has the right to provide telecommunications

[b92] Kosovo police and workers of the Kosovo telecommunications company are removing and destroying Telekom Srbija (Telecom Serbia) property in the province.

They have targeted both mobile and landline base stations in the Serb enclaves.

Telekom officials in Kosovo said the damage was huge, and that the destruction of the equipment is being done under strong police protection.

The company's chief of sector in charge of Kosovo and Metohija, Ilija Ivanović, says the base stations could be repaired in three to four days if there are conditions to do so, but that currently the repairs can't be done, since the company's workers are being threatened with arrest.

"The current situation is that central Kosovo is without mobile service, landlines have not been destroyed yet. The enclaves of Štrpce and Brezovica have no mobile phone service, and we have learned that they have moved to sever landlines as well," he explained.

Ivanović also added that landline telephony in the Kosovsko Pomoravlje district was completely destroyed, and that Serbs there were in a very difficult position.

"There's information that they will shut down the northern (Serb) part of Kosovo, we'll try to salvage what we can. At this moment, the north has no problems," he concluded.

Telekom Srbija reacted today by issuing a statement saying that the violent action undertaken against the company's equipment in Kosovo and Metohija demonstrated the magnitude of the problem faced by those in Priština who wished to urgently sell the so-called Post and Telecom of Kosovo, including the property usurped from Telekom Srbija.

Telekom stressed in the statement that they would not abandon their users and workers in Kosovo and Metohija, and that they would do everything in order to once again provide communication services, under domestic prices and without any international calling codes.

Kosovo Albanian authorities several times this year incapacitated transmitters of Serbian mobile operators claiming they had no license to operate.

State secretary: Harmful and dangerous

State Secretary for Kosovo Oliver Ivanović assessed that the removal and destruction of Telekom Srbija’s base stations in Kosovo was damaging and dangerous.

"The spirits are being stirred at the very moment we are trying to find a way for delegations from Belgrade and Priština to meet and do something constructive", Ivanović said.

He said that the representatives of "certain countries" in Priština supported the decision to destroy Telekom Srbija’s base stations in Kosovo and that “Albanians did not act alone in this”.

"It shows that the international community is not unanimous in the assessment of the situation and measures that are to be taken for this part of the Western Balkans. This situation compromises the good intentions of Belgrade which now has produce a reaction", Ivanović said.

President of the northern municipality of Zubin Potok Slaviša Ristić told reporters today that Serbs there will protect the transmitters, and that KFOR and EULEX have been informed about this.

"We have tried to point out to those responsible in KFOR and EULEX to the possible consequences of such Albanian moves, and we expect their reaction," the mayor said.

He joined other Zubin Potok residents who gathered near a local transmitter this morning.

"Obviously Albanians are determined to try and establish their authority in northern Kosovo as well, but people here will not allow for that to happen," Ristić said.

The north is predominantly inhabited by Serbs who do not recognize the authority of the government in Priština.

Telekom property destroyed in Kosovo

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