Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Kosovo - Regulatory has been removing Telekom Srbija equipment from central and southern Kosovo because it is unlicensed

[] The Kosovo Regulatory Agency for Telecommunications has been removing Telekom Srbija transmitters in central and southern Kosovo over the weekend, claiming that the Serbian business does not have a liscence to operate in Kosovo. Director of the Kosovo Regulatory Agency for Telecommunications Ekrem Hoxha stated that radio-communication equipment was "...'destroyed at 23 sites, which were owned by illegal operators [Telekom Srbija and] Mobilne Telefonije Srbije.... The main goal of this campaign was to turn off mobile phone connections that still broadcast signals from Serbia.'" This operation has left some 80,000 Kosovo-Serbs without a cell phone and a few thousand without a working landline. In April, similar activites took place around Gracanica.

Telekom Srbija Chief for Kosovo and Metohija Ilija Ivanovic stated that the "...'current situation is that central Kosovo is without mobile service, [but] landlines have not been destroyed yet. The [Serb] enclaves of Strpce and Brezovica have no mobile phone service, and we have learned that they have moved to sever landlines as well.'" Telekom Srbija has rejected accusations that it is operating illegally in Kosovo, stating that the company "...'works in line with (UNSC) Resolution 1244.'" While in Sombor, Serbian President Boris Tadic told reporters that "'[w]e are convinced that the state-owned carrier has all the rights and licenses necessary for its operation, properly obtained in the second half of the nineties.'" Tadic added that these actions undertaken by Pristina are "...'a new kind of provocation'" and that "...'we are making every attempt to prevent such provocations and to re-enable telecommunication systems...[for] all citizens living in Kosovo, regardless of ethnicity.'"

All of this comes at a time when Belgrade and Pristina are planning to meet to work on all technical issues, in accordance to the recent passing of Serbia's resolution on Kosovo by the United Nations General Assembly, written with the European Union and supported by the United States. Serbian State Secretary for Kosovo and Metohija Oliver Ivanovic stated that "...'spirits are being stirred at the very moment we are trying to find a way for delegations from Belgrade and Pristina to meet and do something constructive.'" Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac commented on this as well, stating that "...'there is someone who does not want the talks to start with positive energy, but wants to create an atmosphere of tension, an atmosphere in which the exchange of negative energy would be the only possible way'" to begin.

Telekom Srbija has reported that as of today, operations against its property have stopped, and that no telecommunications towers north of the Ibar River have been touched. The company said it will restore all towers as soon as it is allowed to do so without the threat of arrest towards its workers by Kosovo Police.

Kosovo destroys Serbian telecommunication towers; 80,000 without working phones

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