European Western Balkans

US and the EU put pressure on Kurti to deescalate the situation in North Kosovo

Photo: Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora

The NATO-led KFOR mission has increased its presence in the four municipalities of northern Kosovo, following the latest developments in the area regarding Kosovo’s decision to force access into municipal buildings in the north of Kosovo which erupted a wave of violence after ethnic Albanian mayors took office in northern Kosovo’s Serb-majority area following elections boycotted by the Serbs.

Dozens of NATO peacekeepers from KFOR and Serb protesters were injured on Monday in the north of Kosovo in clashes that escalated.

Following this situation, some EU Member States and the US took measures to condemn Kosovo for the violence that is currently happening.

US Ambassador to Kosovo Jeffrey M. Hovenier said that there is a great danger that foreigners will establish a de facto, and perhaps even a de jure, protectorate over the north of Kosovo, and that short-sighted politics creates Palestine at worst, and Cyprus at best.

“More NATO troops in Kosovo means more foreign troops, which means less power and authority for Kosovo. More foreign presence in Kosovo means fewer opportunities for the local population and Albanians to make their own decisions,” said Hovenier.

He highlighted that the US foresaw the consequences of the decision to forcibly install ethnic-Albanian mayors in four majority-Serb municipalities and the US, as a strong ally of Kosovo, had “strongly advised” Prime Minister Albin Kurti to change his course of action, but the advice was ignored.

Hovenier also mentioned that the US was considering other measures and currently “has no enthusiasm” to assist Kosovo in its efforts to gain wider international recognition or progress towards membership in the EU and NATO. Moreover, Kosovo has been expelled from participating in a NATO exercise, Defender Europe 23, that will take place in Albania in June.

In the official statement by the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken it is emphasized that the United States strongly condemns the actions by the Government of Kosovo to access municipal buildings in the north of Kosovo by force, actions it took against the advice of the United States and Kosovo’s European partners.”

It is also stated that these actions escalated tensions and will have consequences for the bilateral relations with Kosovo.

On the other side, the response of the EU Member States was no less critical towards Kosovo. President of France, Emmanuel Macron said that Kosovo bears responsibility for the tension.

“It is very clear that Kosovan authorities bear responsibility for the current situation and there is non-compliance with an agreement that was nevertheless important, which was secured just a couple of weeks ago,” said Macron, reported Barron’s.

Former Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kosovo Petrit Selimi noted on his Twitter account that “at least 3 EU member states are considering requesting suspending of IPA funds and visa liberalization for Kosovo.” European Parliament rapporteur on Kosovo Viola von Cramon quickly answered that questioning visa liberalization and IPA funds is absolutely a “no-go” and that political solution is urgently needed for the north of Kosovo.

To recall, QUINT statement condemned Kosovo’s decision to force access into municipal buildings in the north of Kosovo despite repeated calls for restraint.

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