An elaborately decorated Serbian nationalist train took off Saturday from Belgrade aiming for northern Kosovo but halted at the border in a stunt that triggered a dramatic escalation of tensions between the former wartime foes.
Kosovo officials had protested earlier that the train was in violation of their country’s sovereignty and promised not to let it in.
Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said he had contacted the United States and the European Union to express his country’s concerns.
“I believe that turning back the train was the appropriate action and its entry into the independent and sovereign Republic of Kosovo would not be allowed,” he said at a Saturday evening news conference.
The Russian-made train was painted with Serb flags, religious Christian Orthodox scenes, monasteries and medieval towns and inscribed with “Kosovo is Serbian” in 20 world languages. Hostesses on it wore the colors of the Serbian national flag.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize the split and has sought to maintain influence in Kosovo’s north, where most of the country’s Serb minority is located.