Kosovo to review ties with Serbia after ex-PM arrest: foreign minister

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said on Friday his country had retaliated against neighboring Serbia and would do so again after an ex-prime minister was arrested in France on a warrant issued by Belgrade.

Kosovo's Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj speaks during a news conference in Tirana January 13, 2012. Hoxhaj is in Tirana for a one-day official visit. REUTERS/Arben Celi

The arrest on Wednesday of Ramush Haradinaj, a guerrilla commander in the 1998-99 war against Serbian rule who served briefly as prime minister in 2004 and 2005, has heightened tensions between the Balkan neighbors.

Kosovo seceded from Serbia in 2008. Both states want to join the European Union membership but Brussels says they must normalize relations before their applications can go ahead. Kosovo opposition parties have called for their EU-mediated dialogue to be halted.

“Yesterday we took reciprocal measures with Nikolic (and) we will do that again in the future,” Hoxhaj told reporters in Pristina. “There has to be a revision of our relations with Serbia and a revision of the dialogue.”

Also on Friday, ethnic Albanian protesters in the western town of Gjakova - mostly families of those killed by Serb forces during the 1998-99 conflict - stoned a bus that was carrying ethnic Serb pilgrims marking Orthodox Christmas Eve.

Hoxhaj said Serbia had issued more international arrest warrants for Kosovo citizens, limiting their travel abroad.

Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as an independent state and together with its ally Russia is blocking Pristina’s efforts to join the United Nations and other international institutions.

Haradinaj, who appeared before a French court on Thursday, will remain in prison until Serbia makes a formal extradition order, which will then be examined by the court.

Serbia has charged Haradinaj with murdering Serbs in the late 1990s war. That conflict ended after NATO bombed Serbia for 11 weeks to compel it to withdraw forces that had killed some 10,000 members of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority in counter-insurgency operations.

Thousands of Haradinaj’s party supporters gathered in front of the French embassy in Pristina on Friday holding US and Albanian flags under heavy snow. “Do not offend Kosovo” one banner read.

Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Tom Heneghan