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Kosovar PM Reacts to EU Measures Over Serbia Tensions

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti has responded to the list of measures proposed against the country by the European Union amid ongoing tensions in the north with ethnic Serbs, reiterating Kosovo’s EU perspective and insisting he is not bitter.

On Wednesday, the EU Commission presented a list of proposed measures to take against Kosovo if it did not follow three instructions from the EU designed to de-escalate tensions. They are set to be enforced in a matter of days, according to EURACTIV’s sources.

Kurti said that despite this, Kosovo is the EU’s most sincere and stable partner in the region and adheres to European values, democratic principles and long-term interests. He added that “at times we have been critical of the European Union, but never cynical or bitter. We are not, even today.”

He mentioned the December 2022 EU membership application, stating they filed it “because we believe we deserve to be a part of this union in the foreseeable future because we believe in this union. We have the same faith today.”

Kurti also drew attention to the Commission’s latest Country Report, published in 2022, which describes Kosovo in a “positive light”.

“As in the fight against crime and corruption, as in democratisation, as in economic development, as well as in advancing the legal framework in accordance with the Acquis of the European Union. There we find the true shadow of the European Union; as a supranational, fair and meritocratic organisation,” he said.

Despite the circumstantial developments, he added, Kurti said he appreciates the support and assistance of the EU throughout the years and looks forward to taking the next steps in the accession process.

“Europe is our commitment. The European Union is our destiny,” he said.

In yesterday’s meeting of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET), EU envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Miroslav Lajcak was bitterly criticised by various MEPs.

In particular, Austrian MEP Thomas Waltz said Lajcak’s approach “reduced the credibility of the dialogue” as it appeared to favour Serbia over Kosovo.

“A bully is always a bully, so we really give a bad impression by defending the abusers while attacking the victims of aggression, even if we think some political moves were wrong. This undermines our credibility in the region,” Waltz added.

He also questioned the alleged progress over the last six months, stating that Serbia refused to sign any agreements rather than leaving them as ‘gentleman’s agreements’.

The MEP said that there should be equal demands and pressure on Serbia, not just Kosovo, as he believes the former is being unfairly favoured.

German MEP Michael Gahler also weighed in, listing all of Serbia’s recent issues, including the licence plate issue, siding with convicted war criminals, foreign policy coordination with Russia, broken promises, non-signature of “alleged” agreements, resigning from all public institutions in Kosovo, and refusing to take part in elections.

“Should you not have publicly criticised Vucic as well? Should the EU not have threatened to reduce the flow of money to Serbia? Should you not address the Serb nationalism, which is the root cause of instability and fear throughout the entire Western Balkans?”

He added that Kosovo is the most pro-Western country in the region with political achievements, anti-corruption achievements, economic growth, progress in the rule of law, a government with high public support and 100% alignment with Western foreign policy.

“Kosovo is open to a balanced solution with Serbia but with an honest broker that does not appease the Serb president and pressure the victims,” he added.

Meanwhile, the government of Kosovo has declared the Civil Defense and Northern Brigade, organisations that operate in the northern part of the country, inhabited by a Serb majority, as terrorist organisations, saying that they are responsible for recent tensions.

“Based on the assessments of the security institutions of the Republic of Kosovo, the civil formations Civil DefenCe” (Civilna Zashtita) and its component “Northern Brigade” (Severna Brigada) present a serious and direct threat to the constitutional order and security of the Republic of Kosovo”, said Kurti.

Source: Euractiv