Tags: EU | Kosovo | Serbia | Tensions

US Urges Kosovo, Serbia to Normalize Ties through Dialogue

US Urges Kosovo, Serbia to Normalize Ties through Dialogue

Wednesday, 28 March 2018 10:38 AM

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The United States on Wednesday strongly condemned the recent friction between Kosovo and Serbia, saying it could "unnecessarily heighten tensions and threaten regional stability" in the Balkans.

Tensions soared after Marko Djuric, the head of the Serbian government office for Kosovo, was briefly detained Monday in the Kosovo town of Mitrovica because he entered the country without Kosovo's official approval. He was expelled under police escort.

The move angered Serbia and the minority Serbs in Kosovo, who do not recognize Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. The incident also has fueled fears of renewed instability in the region. The U.S. and the European Union have been trying to help resolve the disputes stemming from the 1990s' wars in the Balkans.

On Tuesday, Russia became involved in the Kosovo dispute and the EU sent its foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on an urgent trip to the Serbian capital of Belgrade.

A statement from the U.S. Department of State on Wednesday urged all parties to avoid further escalation and resolve disputes peacefully.

"To create lasting peace and stability in the Balkans, both Kosovo and Serbia need to focus on normalizing relations through the EU-led dialogue," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Serbia and Kosovo both hope to become members of the EU but are at different stages in the integration process. They must normalize ties in order to join.

Kosovo's minority Serbs, meanwhile, have announced they are pulling out of the Kosovo government, claiming that more than 30 people were injured in the police intervention during Djuric's arrest.

On Wednesday, Kosovo's Serb minority demanded that Kosovo's interior minister and police director resign over the deportation incident. They also said if Kosovo does not launch an association of Serb-dominated municipalities within three weeks, they will do it on their own.

The association was envisaged in a European Union-mediated deal in 2013 but was never carried out by Kosovo authorities.

Mogherini urged both countries to show "calm, wisdom, restraint and leadership," adding it is in Serbia's interest "to preserve stability, peace and to progress on the EU path."

But Moscow's Foreign Ministry accused the EU and the U.S. of wanting "to crudely suppress" attempts by Kosovo Serbs to "safeguard their legitimate interests."

Russia has been trying to expand its influence in the Balkans mainly through its traditional Slavic ally Serbia. On Tuesday, members of the Night Wolves biker club, known for their allegiance to Russian President Vladimir Putin, announced a tour linking Russia and Kosovo.

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The United States on Wednesday strongly condemned the recent friction between Kosovo and Serbia, saying it could "unnecessarily heighten tensions and threaten regional stability" in the Balkans.Tensions soared after Marko Djuric, the head of the Serbian government office...
EU,Kosovo,Serbia,Tensions
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2018-38-28
Wednesday, 28 March 2018 10:38 AM
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