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Saturday, December 2, 2023

EU and US envoys urge Kosovo and Serbia to renew dialogue with the intention to defuse tensions

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PRISTINA, Kosovo — The envoys of the European Union and america urged Kosovo and Serbia on Saturday to renew their dialogue on normalizing relations earlier than the bitter tensions between the 2 sides lead to extra violence.

EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak and U.S. Particular Consultant to the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar met with Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. They later traveled to Serbia for a gathering with President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade.

The guests have been accompanied by high diplomats from Germany, France and Italy, reflecting Western considerations over the disaster within the unstable Balkan area.

It was the primary such engagement since about 30 Serb gunmen crossed into northern Kosovo on Sept. 24, killing a police officer and organising barricades earlier than launching an hours-long gunbattle with Kosovo police. Three gunmen have been killed.

Lajcak mentioned that in their assembly with Kurti, the overseas officers careworn that “the terrorist assault towards Kosovo police by armed people (that) constitutes a transparent and unprecedented escalation.”

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He added that the assault additionally “very clearly underlined that each deescalation and normalization are actually extra pressing than ever.”

“If there isn’t any dialogue, there is perhaps a repetition of escalation,” Lajcak mentioned.

Serbia and its former province, Kosovo, have been at odds for many years. Their 1998-99 warfare left greater than 10,000 folks {dead}, principally Kosovo Albanians. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 however Belgrade has refused to acknowledge the transfer.

Each Kosovo and Serbia need to be part of the EU, which has informed them that they first must type out their variations.

Western powers need Kosovo and Serbia to implement a 10-point plan put ahead by the EU in February to finish months of political crises. Kurti and Vucic gave their approval on the time, however with some reservations.

The EU and U.S. are pressuring Kosovo to permit for the creation of an Affiliation of the Serb-Majority Municipalities to coordinate work on training, health care, land planning and financial growth in communities of northern Kosovo principally populated by ethnic Serbs.

Pristina fears such an affiliation can be a step towards making a Serb mini-state with vast autonomy, much like Republika Srpska in Bosnia.

Lajcak urged Kosovo’s authorities “to maneuver on the institution of the affiliation of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo with out additional delay.”

“With out this, there might be no progress on Kosovo’s European path,” he mentioned.

The EU suspended funding some tasks in Kosovo and halted visits by its high diplomats in July over the difficulty.

Later in Belgrade, Lajcak mentioned “we have now to be very clear that we strongly condemn terrorist assault on Kosovo police on the twenty fourth of September.”

“All perpetrators have to be delivered to justice and we anticipate Serbia’s full cooperation and concrete motion on this regard,” he added.

Serbia has denied involvement within the assault, saying it was organized by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo. The ringleader, Milan Radoicic, an ally of Vucic, was briefly detained in Serbia and later launched pending additional proceedings.

Vucic mentioned on Instagram after the assembly that he believed “we’ll discover a means out of the disaster within the coming interval.” He mentioned he anticipated ”vital conferences” in Brussels within the days forward. He didn’t elaborate.

The final Kosovo-Serbia normalization talks befell in mid-September, earlier than the flare-up in northern Kosovo. It is unclear when one other spherical of conferences would possibly happen.

Kosovo has known as on Europe to sanction Serbia, which it blames for the Sept. 24 violence, saying no additional talks may very well be held and demanding increased safety measures from Western powers to discourage an elevated presence of Serb navy forces alongside its border.

NATO has bolstered a peacekeeping power in Kosovo, which usually has a troop energy of 4,500, with an extra 200 troops from the U.Ok. and greater than 100 from Romania. It additionally despatched heavier armaments to beef up the peacekeepers’ fight energy.


Llazar Semini reported from Tirana, Albania. Observe him at https://twitter.com/lsemini

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