EU calls for ‘immediate de-escalation’ in northern Kosovo
Bloc urge Belgrade, Pristina to ‘take responsible approach’ to dialogue to ‘avoid any further escalation’
The EU on Wednesday called for an immediate de-escalation in northern Kosovo after Pristina banned vehicles with Serbian license plates from entering the country.
“The European Union calls for an immediate de-escalation in the north of Kosovo. Any provocations or unilateral actions must be avoided as they would go directly against the interest of the people of the region,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement. “We urge the leadership in Belgrade and Pristina to take a responsible approach and to work through the EU facilitated Dialogue to avoid any further escalation, restore a peaceful atmosphere and to work on viable solutions.”
Borrell said that looking for a way that enables free movement and improves people’s daily lives is in the interests of all.
“We stress once again that all agreements reached in the process of the EU-facilitated Dialogue since its inception in 2011 remain valid and binding for both Parties. Past agreements form an important element for comprehensive normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia,” he said.
“The EU and its Member States urge Kosovo and Serbia to fully respect and implement all their Dialogue obligations with no further delay,” he added.
Tension between Kosovo and Serbia
The ban on vehicles with Serbian license plates early Monday has created tension between Serbia and Kosovo.
Kosovo's Interior Ministry said vehicles with Serbian license plates are not allowed to cross the border and drivers would need to have a temporary plate.
The ministry pointed out that a free traffic circulation agreement signed between the two countries in 2016 expired Sept. 15.
Temporary license plates were placed on windshields and rear windows of vehicles, while original plates were covered.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said the decision was not aimed at Serbs in Kosovo.
"Our aim is not provocation or instability. Everything that is done is lawful. We are only implementing what is required of an expired agreement," he said.
But Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Pristina has violated every agreement up to now.
The former Serbian province of Kosovo declared independence in February 2008 and is recognized by more than 100 countries, including the US, UK, France, Germany and Turkey.
Belgrade, however, still claims Kosovo as a breakaway province.
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