Karate artists of the Karate Federation of Kosovo will not participate in the European Championship, which is being held in Novi Sad from today.
"The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia has forbidden representatives of Kosovo to enter into Serbia, so we will not participate in the European karate championship to be held in Novi Sad," the Kosovo Karate Federation stated early this morning, announcing a special press conference today. They were stopped at the Merdare border crossing.
A press release from Belgrade was published also. What the Kosovo Karate artists see as a ban on entry, from the Office for KiM of the Government of Serbia explained as:
"Despite the precise announcement by the organizers of the exclusively status-neutral way of participation and representation of the athletes from Kosovo and Metohija, a small part of the delegation from Kosovo and Metohija last night, around 23 h appeared at the administrative crossing Merdare with the symbols of the false state of Kosovo, with the undoubted intention to initiate provocations at this competition. After this, this morning again, a large part of the delegation from our southern province tried to introduce marks and equipment with the symbols of the self-proclaimed 'Kosovo'."
They are also stating: "We note that, exclusively for the purpose of protecting the sporting spirit of the competition and the safety of participants and citizens, the delegation from Kosovo and Metohija has been returned from the administrative crossing. The competent authorities are in a state of emergency in the event of possible new provocations."
They added that it is "important to point out" that representatives of karate artists from Kosovo did not appear yesterday at an earlier scheduled meeting with the president of the European Karate Federation, which was to "agree and clarify details about how to participate and represent the athletes from our southern province at the European Championships in Novi Sad-"
This, it is stated from this office – "it says enough that sport to them is the second plan this time too."
The trip of Kosovo karate artists to Merdare was preceded by a statement by the director of the KiM Office, Marko Djuric:
"At the upcoming European Karate Championship in Novi Sad, athletes from our southern province will not be able to have the so-called" Kosovo "symbols.
The decision on the pledges was announced yesterday after a meeting of the "Serbian Government's Coordination Team for Directing Activities of Sports Organizations in the Republic of Serbia on the Status of Sports Organizations and the Participation of Athletes under the Authorization of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Pristina on an International Level".
In the meantime, accusations from Pristina on the politicization of sports arrived too.
Belgrade "is trying to politicize sport, which should connect and not separate people" – said Kosovo President Hashim Thaci.
"Banning the Karate Federation of Kosovo to participate in the EP in Novi Sad is an unacceptable act that does not contribute to the normalization of relations between the two countries," said Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.
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