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EP adopts Resolution on Banjska, calls for measures against Serbian government if its involvement is proven

European Parliament; Photo: European Union

STRASBOURG – The European Parliament adopted today a joint motion for a resolution on the 24 September Banjska attack in the north of Kosovo It strongly condemned the attack and called for measures against the Serbian government if the investigations reveal that it was directly involved. It also called for de-escalation, implementation of the 2023 and earlier agreements and return of Serbs to Kosovo institutions.

Officially, the document is titled “Resolution on the recent developments in the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, including the situation in the northern municipalities in Kosovo”. The final version was submitted jointly by five groups: European People’s Party, Socialists and Democrats, Renew Europe, the Greens, and European Conservatives and Reformists.

The resolution condemned “in the strongest possible terms the hideous and cowardly terrorist attack on Kosovan police officers by well-organised Serbian paramilitaries in Banjska/Banjskë in the north of Kosovo, which took place on 24 September 2023 and resulted in the murder of the Kosovan police officer Afrim Bunjaku”.

It urged all sides to work to de-escalate the situation and stressed that “the perpetrators of this deplorable attack must be held accountable and face justice without delay”. It urged Serbia to fully cooperate with the investigations and to bring those responsible for the attack who are currently residing in Serbia to justice in accordance with the law, including their extradition to Kosovo.

The resolution calls on the Commission and the Council to take measures against the Serbian Government if investigations reveal that the Serbian State was directly involved in the Banjska terrorist attack or the violent attacks that took place in the north of Kosovo in May 2023, or if the Serbian authorities are unwilling to cooperate fully.

“(The European Parliament) calls, in this context, on the Commission to freeze the funding provided to Serbia under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance III if investigation findings indicate that the Serbian State was directly involved in these attacks”, the text reads.

The resolution also called on the Council to adopt targeted restrictive measures, including but not limited to asset freezes and travel bans, against destabilising actors in the north of Kosovo and the leaders of major organised crime networks.

“(The European Parliament) deplores the fact that the Belgrade court rejected the call by the Belgrade Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for the detention of Milan Radoičić in view of the risk of his flight, given that Radoičić claimed responsibility for organising the attack of 24 September 2023; (it) expresses deep concern that all those responsible for the attack in Banjska might not be brought to justice”, the document reads.

The resolution strongly denounced the Serbian army’s military build-up on the border with Kosovo and took note of “the important step that Serbia’s partial withdrawal of its troops from the border with Kosovo represents”. It called on Serbia to refrain from this repetitive pattern of escalation in the future and to behave fully in accordance with the Kumanovo Agreement.

The MEPs also called on KFOR to establish a containment plan in the north of Kosovo, incorporating robust elements that can act as a deterrent to further escalation. They urged the EU Member States to deploy additional troops to the country without further delay.

The Parliament reiterated its call on Serbia and Kosovo to participate in the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue in good faith and called on both parties to fully implement the Brussels Agreement of 27 February 2023 and the Ohrid Agreement of 18 March 2023, as well as all the previous agreements.

It urged High Representative Josep Borrell and EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajčák to facilitate the dialogue in a proactive manner and report to Parliament no later than the end of 2023 on their findings regarding Serbian and Kosovan engagement with, action on and delivery of the objectives of the dialogue.

The EP stressed that it remains crucial to hold early local elections in the four municipalities in the north of Kosovo to help defuse the tensions, and encourages the authorities to ensure the full participation of all political parties.

“(The European Parliament) reiterates that Serbia also needs to commit publicly to the participation of Kosovo Serbs in the elections, since Srpska Lista has already announced its unconditional participation”, the document reads.

It called on Kosovo Serbs to return to Kosovan institutions and refrain from further escalating tensions on the ground, and encouraged the Kosovan Government to significantly step up its efforts to reintegrate them, as initiatives to involve the Serb community in Kosovo’s political, social and economic structures remain very limited.

“(The European Parliament) reaffirms that reconciliation and the inclusion of the Serb community in Kosovo is essential for ensuring stability in the country and for moving forward in the normalisation of Pristina-Belgrade relations under the EU-facilitated dialogue; reiterates its call for the Kosovan authorities to improve the internal dialogue with independent civil society organisations in the northern municipalities with the aim of building trust and facilitating the daily life of Kosovo Serbs”, the document reads.

The debate on the Banjska attack took place in the European Parliament on 3 October.

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