Kosovo reveals details of deal with EU on de-escalation measures in north

Thu, 13 Jul 2023 6:51 GMT
Government supports holding early elections in 4 municipalities after the summer.
Kosovo reveals details of deal with EU on de-escalation measures in north

Kosovo on Wednesday revealed details of an agreement it reached with the European Union on steps to de-escalate tensions in the country’s northern region. 

The deal includes a 25% reduction in the police presence in and around municipal buildings in four predominantly northern Serb municipalities.

The government said the agreement came after a meeting on July 10 between First Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Development and Dialogue of the Republic of Kosovo Besnik Bislim and European Union Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak in the Slovakian capital Bratislava.

“The Kosovo government supports holding early elections in four municipalities in the country’s north after the summer season. Kosovo expresses its commitment to providing the legal basis to ensure these elections are held. The EU will invite the two chief negotiators to Brussels to finalize the plan for the Normalization Agreement (agreed between Kosovo and Serbia), and then the implementation of all the articles of the agreement will begin,” said the statement.

The transactions on the agreed issues will be completed within two weeks.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell welcomed Kosovo's decision.

''I welcome Kosovo's commitment to the arrangement we reached on the first steps for de-escalation. We expect Kosovo to take further positive steps and continue to advance in this direction,'' said Borrell.

Following April elections in northern Kosovo, the EU said the low turnout among Serbs did not provide municipalities with long-term political solutions.

Ethnic Serbs have been protesting the election of Albanian mayors since late May.

On May 30, after 30 soldiers were injured during unrest in the region, NATO sent 700 more troops to the Kosovo Force (KFOR), the alliance-led peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. The reinforcements included a contingent of Turkish forces.

Kosovo and Serbia need to resolve disputes and reach an agreement to move forward with their integration into the EU.

When the government in Pristina declared its independence from Serbia 15 years ago, most UN member states including the US, UK, France, Germany and Türkiye recognized it as a separate country, but Belgrade continues to regard it as its territory.


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