Serbia warns Kosovo against ‘undermining’ regional stability

Vučić, Mogherini and Thaçi on 8 November in Brussels. [EEAS]

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić on Sunday (11 November) accused Kosovo of “undermining regional cooperation and stability” by raising taxes on Serbian goods.

A dialogue between the two former foes is stalled for months and the latest Pristina move illustrates lasting tensions two decades since the Kosovo war.

The 1998-1999 conflict between Belgrade forces and pro-independence ethnic Albanians claimed more than 13,000 lives.

Kosovo and Serbia’s presidents met Thursday under EU auspices to resume dialogue aimed at normalising relations, amid increasing tensions between former foes.

Kosovo’s decision to raise taxes by 10% this week was “violating achieved agreements and undermining regional cooperation and stability,” a statement from Vučić’s office said.

It was issued after he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris on the sidelines of World War I commemoration services.

Pristina’s move, a retaliation for Serbia’s longtime diplomatic offensive to convince countries to revoke their recognition of Kosovo’s independence, sparked criticisms also from the European Union.

Kosovo says its 2008 independence from Serbia is recognised by about 115 countries.

But Serbia claims it has managed to convince a dozen nations to revoke their decision.

Kosovo and Serbia are “miles from reaching an agreement,” Vučić told Serbian reporters in Paris quoted by the state-run RTS television.

Vučić said he did not understand Pristina’s decision to raise taxes.

With annual exports of €400 million, Serbia is Kosovo’s top regional trade partner

“When you are dealing with people who are doing this it is clear you should be afraid what they can do next.

“I’m horribly frightened for future since I don’t know what these heads can do,” Vučić said.

Another dispute between the two sides is Kosovo’s decision to create its own army, which was confirmed to AFP by Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi, who also said he met Merkel in France.

That decision has provoked anger from Kosovo’s own ethnic Serb minority as well as from Serbia.

NATO, which leads a military force that ensures Kosovo’s security, has also expressed serious reservations.

Serbia, and its main ally Russia, refuse to recognise independence of majority ethnic-Albanian Kosovo.

No ethic border

A revised border between Kosovo and Serbia will not be drawn along ethnic lines, Kosovo’s Thaçi insisted in an interview with AFP on Friday.

This summer, Thaçi and Vučić both raised the possibility of redrawing the border, comments that alarmed some observers.

EU Commission encourages border ‘corrections’ to settle Kosovo-Serbia relations

Brussels should accept an agreement between Serbs and ethnic Albanians to settle their long-standing dispute over Kosovo, a top EU official said on Sunday (26 August), seeking to dispel fears that any redrawing of Balkan borders might reignite feuds in the volatile region.

But Thaçi was clear on one point.

“We will work together to define the borders, just like we did with Macedonia and Montenegro, but there will be no borders based on ethnic lines,” he said.

“Kosovo will stay multi-ethnic, Serbia as well, no population displaced. The region will be safer thanks to this agreement.”

For a peaceful border correction between Kosovo and Serbia

The peaceful border correction with Serbia is an opportunity for mutual recognition between Kosovo and Serbia that should not be missed, writes Hashim Thaçi.

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