World

EU, NATO appeal to Kosovo, Serbia to de-escalate tensions

September 26, 2021
EU High Representative Josep Borrell called on Kosovo and Serbia to de-escalate the situation in north Kosovo over a license plate row between the two sides.
EU High Representative Josep Borrell called on Kosovo and Serbia to de-escalate the situation in north Kosovo over a license plate row between the two sides.

BRUSSELS — The European Union and NATO Sunday called on Kosovo and Serbia to de-escalate the situation in north Kosovo over a license plate row between the two sides.

"Serbia and Kosovo need to unconditionally de-escalate the situation on the ground, by immediately withdrawing special police units and dismantling of roadblocks. Any further provocations or unilateral and uncoordinated actions are unacceptable," said EU High Representative Josep Borrell in a statement.

"Kosovo and Serbia must find solutions to defuse the situation and agree on the way forward. The EU will actively support these efforts. Both Kosovo and Serbian leaders are fully responsible for any risks to the safety and well-being of local communities is on both Kosovo and Serbia," he said.

"The EU-facilitated Dialogue continues to be the only platform to address and resolve all open issues between the Parties, including those related to freedom of movement and license plate, and I strongly urge Kosovo and Serbia to use it," Borrell said.

He added, “Both chief negotiators coming to Brussels in the coming days is a first positive step. It is crucial that they come with a mandate to discuss the way forward and find sustainable solutions that are in the interests of the citizens.

“We repeat that we expect both Kosovo and Serbia to return to fostering an environment conducive to reconciliation, regional stability and cooperation for the benefit of their citizens.

“This is crucial for reaching a comprehensive and legally-binding agreement on normalization of their relations, which is necessary for both to advance on their respective European paths,” Borrell said.

“I am in close touch with NATO Secretary General, whom I thank for the excellent cooperation between KFOR and EULEX. KFOR plays a key role in supporting regional stability in the Western Balkans,” he added.

According to media report, a vehicle registration office in Kosovo was set on fire on Saturday. Serbia does not recognize its former province's independence declared in 2008 and forces drivers from Kosovo to buy temporary plates when entering the country. Now Kosovo has decided to do the same.

In response, ethnic Serbs in Kosovo blocked the border with trucks, and two government offices in the capital Pristina have been attacked Serbia has put its army troops in regions near Kosovo on higher alert, said the reports.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Sunday said he spoke by phone with Aleksandar Vucic president of Serbia and Albin Kurti prime minister of Kosovo and called for de-escalation of the situation in the north of Kosovo.

"It's vital both Belgrade & Pristina show restraint & return to dialogue," he said on his Twitter message Sunday. NATO KFOR's mandate remains to ensure a safe and secure environment & freedom of movement for all, he added.

About 4,000 troops from the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), provided by 28 countries continue to work towards maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all citizens and communities in Kosovo. — Agencies


September 26, 2021
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