Hungary’s premier rules out EU sanctions on Serbia

EU should instead help Serbia in ‘stabilizing’ Balkans region, says Viktor Orban

Agnes Szucs  | 06.10.2023 - Update : 06.10.2023
Hungary’s premier rules out EU sanctions on Serbia


Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday ruled out imposing sanctions on Serbia after recent clashes between ethnic Serbs and Kosovar police in northern Kosovo.

Speaking to reporters on the way to the informal meeting of EU leaders in the Spanish city of Granada, Orban said that Kosovo’s call to sanction Serbia over the recent attacks in northern Kosovo is “ridiculous” and “impossible.”

He said that “Serbia suffered provocations in the last two years, regularly” and it is Kosovo that should change its behavior.

“Provocations lead to instability,” Orban said, adding that the EU policy should aim instead at helping Serbia “to stabilize the region” because without Belgrade “there is no stability in the Balkans.”

The EU has been criticized for being lenient toward Serbia as it has only applied temporary measures against the government of Kosovo for failing to take steps for de-escalation since June.

Kosovo called international community, especially the Western countries, to impose measures against Serbia for taking a role in clashes that broke out on Sept. 24. near the Serbian border.

The plea came after the country’s Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla said on Sunday that he holds evidence that Serbia had been trying to annex Kosovo’s northern region and the attackers had been preparing for this a long time at military bases.

On Sept. 24, a clash broke out in Kosovo’s village of Banjska when a group of armed ethnic Serbs blocked a bridge with two trucks. A shootout erupted after the group opened fire on police, leaving one police officer dead and another injured.

Tensions rose so high in May in the area following municipal elections in ethnic Serb-dominated areas that NATO decided to deploy 700 more troops in the peacekeeping KFOR mission after 93 of its soldiers were injured.

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, with most UN member states, including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Türkiye, recognizing it as an autonomous country.

Serbia, however, still considers Kosovo its territory.

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