Kosovo ousts Serbian mobile networks

26 Apr 2010

Authorities in Kosovo have begun to remove mobile network equipment of Serbian mobile operators operating in the region, leaving thousands of minority Serbs without service. ‘The action is still continuing,’ head of Kosovo’s Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA), Ekrem Hoxha, told journalists, adding that 14 basic transmitter stations belonging to Telekom Srbija, Telenor Serbia and Mobilkom Serbia had been removed. The transmitters are considered illegal because their owners do not have licences from the state of Kosovo, which seceded from Serbia in 2008. Serbia does not recognise Kosovo’s independence and still considers it a southern province. The removed equipment was installed in Serb-dominated areas where many use Serbian mobile networks instead of two licensed Kosovo operators. Many of the 80,000 Serbs living in central and southern Kosovo are believed to be affected by the move. Serbian authorities have strongly protested and urged the international community to ‘protect’ the Serb minority. Serbian prime minister Mirko Cvetkovic called on representatives of the United Nations – which has a 14,000-strong presence in Kosovo – to ‘prevent incidents related to [the] Serb population in Kosovo.’