Serb police block far-right groups from disrupting festival

Serbian police have prevented dozens of far-right supporters from disrupting an event designed to boost dialogue with the former province of Kosovo whose declaration of independence Belgrade does not recognize.

Police cordons blocked several streets in central Belgrade on Wednesday as members of the Serbian Radical Party rallied against the opening of the "Mirdita-Dobar Dan" festival. Party leader Vojislav Seselj, who was convicted of war crimes by a U.N. court, says the festival is a "shame" for Serbia.

The event is organized by liberal youth groups from Serbia and Kosovo to promote cultural exchange between the former war foes. It features films, exhibitions and debates.

Serbia and Kosovo must normalize relations to advance toward membership in the European Union. Kosovo declared independence in 2008 following the 1998-99 conflict.