The United States of America (US) and the European Union (EU) today called for an “unconditional reduction” of tensions in northern Kosovo, where the Serbian army is beefing up its presence on the border.
“We ask everyone to exercise maximum restraint and take immediate steps to unconditionally de-escalate the situation,” a US State Department spokesman and an EU spokesman said in a joint press release.
Both Brussels and Washington called on the parties – Serbia and Kosovo – “to refrain from any provocation, threats or intimidation” and said they were “working with the president.” [sérvio, Aleksander] Vučić and with the Prime Minister [kosovar, Albin] Kurti to find a political solution that will ease tensions and preserve the stability, security and well-being of the entire local population.”
Both representatives also recalled that they can monitor the observance of human rights in the territory through the European mission in the Eulex region.
Kosovo today closed its main border post with Serbia after Serbs erected barricades at the site in one of the worst crises in the region in recent years.
Last November, 600 members of the Kosovo Serb minority who were part of the police and state administration resigned after Pristina announced that it was going to ban cars with license plates from Serbia.
Tensions escalated over the next few days, and on 10 December several hundred Kosovo Serbs set up roadblocks in northern Kosovo, bringing traffic to a halt at two key border points with Serbia.
The position of Brussels and the United States was revealed after the Kosovo Foreign Ministry sent a letter to EU member states asking for action to oblige Serbia to cooperate in a peaceful resolution of tensions.
In the document, the government of Kosovo asks the international community to urge Serbia to return to dialogue and provide a timeline of the latest incidents in the north of the region.
“At best, Serbia is deliberately trying to destabilize Kosovo in order to hinder the progress of the dialogue, especially in the context of the new plan proposed by the EU (supported by France and Germany) to normalize relations,” the letter, quoted by Kosovo News Online, said.
The Kosovo government also cites the escalation of the conflict as reminiscent of the “mode of action” used by the Serbian authorities in the 1990s.
The letter mentions more than just the unrest recorded from the building of barricades by the Serb minority in Mitrovica, a city in northern Kosovo, to the attacks on journalists from the Kosovo press.
“We strongly condemn extremist attacks on journalists in northern Kosovo. Over the past three weeks, several journalists have been repeatedly attacked by criminal groups trying to destabilize Kosovo,” Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Donika Gerwalla-Schwartz echoed in a message posted on Twitter.
“The international community must urgently intervene in Belgrade and protect the free press. This must end. Now,” the minister added.
The German government also today expressed “great concern” about the situation and called for “constructive action” that would lead to the unblocking of closed border posts.
For its part, Russia today called the crisis a “very dangerous scenario” and Russian Ambassador to Belgrade Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko acknowledged on Tuesday that a provocation could occur at any moment that could spark a new armed conflict. conflict.
At a press conference, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov added this morning that the Kremlin is closely monitoring the situation and supporting Serbia.
Kosovo, populated mostly by ethnic Albanians, unilaterally gained independence from Serbia in 2008 as a result of a war between separatists and Belgrade militants, but Serbia never recognized the independence of the territory.