European Western Balkans

US demands release of Kosovo police officers, Kosovo and Serbia to take immediate steps to de-escalate situation

US State Department; Photo: Flickr / NCinDC

WASHINGTON – Kosovo and Serbia must take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions, including the unconditional release of the three Kosovo police officers, the US said in a statement.

“We believe both parties must follow the three-point plan that the EU has outlined without delay. As part of this, as we have spoken to before, Prime Minister Kurti and his government must ensure that elected mayors carry out their transitional duties from alternate locations and withdraw police forces from the vicinity”, stated State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller during the press briefing on Thursday.

The US continues to condemn the unacceptable violence against NATO-lef KFOR troops, enforcement, and journalists.

“I will say, in terms of a path forward, we continue to be engaged directly with both parties as well as with our partner in the region. Secretary Blinken has had conversations with partners in the region about this. Chancellor Cholle has had direct conversations, as have others from the State Department”, Miller added.

On the question there is a possibility for any further actions going forward, like sanctions, he said that he does not want to preview any potential actions right now.

“Our focus is making clear expectations to both parties that they both take immediate steps to exacerbate tensions and follow the three-point plan that’s been outlined by the EU”, he concluded.

According to Radio Free Europe, the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Kraljevo is currently conducting the interrogation of Kosovo police officers who, according to Serbian authorities, were arrested on 14 June. The Prosecutor’s Office has not provided any information regarding the nature of the crimes the officers are being charged with or the expected duration of the hearing. Today, Serbian authorities are faced with the decision on how to proceed with the three Kosovo police officers, as the 48-hour deadline from their arrest is about to expire. This legal deadline requires the prosecution to determine whether to propose a one-month detention, with the final decision resting in the hands of the judge. If no such decision is made, the arrested police officers must be released.

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