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EU fails to defuse tense state of affairs between Serbia and Kosovo


BRUSSELS — The European Union’s high diplomat held eight hours of fruitless talks Monday with the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo and blamed them for his or her failure to settle a dispute over car license plate.

Amid rising tensions between the Balkans neighbors, the EU’s excessive consultant, Josep Borrell, invited Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti to Brussels for emergency talks.

Borrell mentioned after the assembly that each leaders had the accountability “to urgently de-escalate” however that each events had proven “unconstructive behavior” and an absence of respect for his or her worldwide authorized obligations.

“And this goes in particular for Kosovo,” he mentioned. “This sends a very negative political signal.”

“Unfortunately they did not agree to a solution today,” he mentioned.

The EU-backed Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, which is geared toward normalizing relations between the neighbors and former foes within the Western Balkans, has been at a digital standstill for years. The EU warned Serbia and Kosovo final week that they’re on the sting of a precipice and should resolve their dispute or face the prospect of a return to their violent previous.

Long-simmering tensions between Serbia and its former province mounted once more in latest weeks over the Kosovo authorities’s resolution to ban Serbian-issued license plates, matching Serbia’s earlier ban on Kosovo license plates.

Under the ban, about 6,300 ethnic Serbs proudly owning automobiles with quantity plates deemed to be unlawful in Kosovo had been to be warned till Monday, then fined for the next two months. Beginning on April 21, they’d solely be permitted to drive with non permanent native plates.

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On Nov. 5, 10 Serb lawmakers, 10 prosecutors and 576 law enforcement officials in Kosovo’s northern Mitrovica area resigned over the transfer.

Borrell mentioned he put ahead a proposal that was solely accepted by Vucic and pledged to maintain attempting exhausting for an answer.

“I now expect Kosovo to immediately suspend further stages related to the re-registration of vehicles in north Kosovo,” Borrell mentioned, including that he requested Serbia to droop issuing new license plates with acronyms of Kosovo cities.

Kurti blamed Borrell for focusing solely on the license plates as an alternative of the complete normalization of ties between the neighbors.

“I am ready to come back and talk based on the same agenda: final agreement on fully normalizing ties, which at the center has the bilateral recognition, and other current issues of different character, like the case of the number plates,” Kurti informed journalists. “One cannot do without the other.”

Vucic mentioned Kurti was answerable for the failure of the assembly.

“Sleepless nights are ahead of us,” he mentioned.

Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani accused Borrell of “accommodating the aggressor and introducing a totally distorted reality.” Osmani reminded Borrell of at the very least 15 allegedly unfulfilled agreements from Serbia because the begin of the negotiations 11 years in the past.

“Peace and stability cannot be achieved by accommodating those who have hegemonist ambitions,” she mentioned on social media.

The challenge of Kosovo’s independence sparked a 1998-99 struggle through which about 13,000 folks died. Serbia launched a brutal crackdown to curb a separatist riot by the territory’s ethnic Albanians. NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 to finish the struggle.

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Kosovo unilaterally broke away from Serbia in 2008. The Serbian authorities, with help from China and Russia, has refused to acknowledge Kosovo’s statehood. The United States and most of its European allies acknowledge Kosovo as an impartial nation.

With the resignations this month of the ethnic Serbs, there are fewer than 50 Kosovo-Albanian law enforcement officials manning police stations within the Mitrovica area, Borrell mentioned.

“This leaves a very dangerous security vacuum — a vacuum on the ground — in an already very fragile situation,” he mentioned.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed disappointment on the assembly’s failure and referred to as for “pragmatic solutions” in a message posted on Twitter. Stoltenberg mentioned “escalation must be avoided,” including that the NATO-led mission in Kosovo, referred to as KFOR, “remains vigilant.”

Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, and Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade, Serbia, contributed to this story.



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