European Western Balkans

NATO, EU call for deescalation in the north of Kosovo as tensions continue

Jens Stoltenberg; Photo: NATO

BRUSSELS – Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg tweeted on Sunday that he had spoken with both President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti about the need to de-escalate in the north of Kosovo.

“It’s vital both Belgrade and Pristina show restraint and return to dialogue. KFOR’s mandate remains to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all”, Stoltenberg tweeted.

As of Sunday, 26 September, Kosovo Serbs continued to block the crossings of Jarinje and Brnjak due to the decision of Kosovo to introduce reciprocal measures for Serbia’s licence plates, requesting vehicles from Serbia to use temporary plates, as vehicles from Kosovo do in Serbia. Representatives of Kosovo Serbs demand that the decision be revoked and are protesting the presence of special police forces of Kosovo.

Aircrafts of the Serbian Armed Forces flew over Jarinje on Sunday, as did the KFOR choppers, while Minister of Defence Nebojša Stefanović visited a part of military forces stationed near Kosovo, together with Russian Ambassador to Serbia, Radio-Television of Serbia reported.

A day earlier, two offices in the municipality of Zubin Potok, where the vehicle registration center was located – that is, the place for issuing test RKS license plates, burned down, and two bombs that did not explode were thrown into the same center in Zvečan on the same night, KoSSev reports.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar for European and Eurasian Affairs will participate in this week’s meetings in Brussels aimed at deescalation of tensions, Radio Free Europe reports.

High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell also released a statement yesterday.

“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”, Borrell stated.

He added that 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. I stressed this in my calls with President Vučić and Prime Minister Kurti this week”, Borrell said.

Borrell said that 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 licence plates, and he strongly urged Kosovo and Serbia to use it.

“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”, he said.

He confirmed he was in close touch with NATO Secretary General, whom I thank for the excellent cooperation between KFOR and EULEX.

Borrell call was reiterated on Twitter by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

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