Friday

5th Mar 2021

Kosovo violence threatens Serbia's EU bid

  • Dummy barricade at use in a Kfor exercise in Kosovo (Photo: nato.org)

A flare up in violence in north Kosovo has alarmed EU officials as Brussels gets set to rule whether or not Serbia is ready for EU candidate status.

Nato soldiers fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas on Tuesday (27 September) at a crowd of Kosovar Serbs who tried to stop them dismantling a barricade near the Jarinje crossing point on the Kosovo-Serbia border. On the other side, live fire and pipe bombs were used against the troops, with 16 civilians and four soldiers injured.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Nato spokesman Ralph Adametz told press the incident began when "an attempt was made to seize [a] soldier's weapon and after a verbal warning a Kfor soldier fired a shot injuring the civilian attempting to steal the weapon."

Kosovar Serbs also attacked two police vehicles in the town of Mitrovica.

Serbia has responded by cancelling the next round of EU-sponsored talks on day-to-day co-operation with Kosovo. "The talks will not resume until we see what will happen at the two border crossings," its chief negotiator, Borko Stefanovic said on TV.

The 60,000 or so ethnic Serbs who live in north Kosovo reject Pristina's authority.

Nato soldiers and EU diplomats publicly say the territory is run by ethnic Serb organised crime groups whose primary interest is keeping the region in limbo so they can make money on smuggling.

They privately admit the groups get support from Belgrade, however - in July a sniper murdered an ethnic Albanian policeman in the region using what police suspect was a military-grade rifle.

The frozen conflict in north Kosovo helps Serbia to destabilise the partially-recognised country and to hold back its EU integration prospects. But it risks provoking similar problems among ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and Serbia and ethnic Serbs in Bosnia just 10 years after the Balkan Wars.

Speaking to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said: "I am today as worried about what is happening in the north of Kosovo if not more so [than the Arab-Irsael conflict]." Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt tweeted: "Worried by violence in northern Kosovo. We must [sic] back to diplomacy and cautious confidence-building."

Tuesday's violence comes a few weeks before the EU commission decides whether or not Serbia has done enough to merit getting EU candidate status.

Belgrade earlier this year gave up two top war crimes suspects to The Hague. But its hard line on north Kosovo could see any pro-EU decision hedged with conditions that accession talks will not start until the problem is fully solved, EU diplomats told Reuters on Tuesday.

Serbia shows sympathy for Kosovo amid EU talks

Serbia has voiced sympathy for the family of an ethnic Albanian policeman killed in north Kosovo. But the gesture of good will comes amid harsh words on the future of the disputed region.

EU commission to confront Turkey on free press

The European Commission in its 2011 enlargement report will tell Turkey to stop attacking investigative journalists and mark "limited progress" on pro-EU reforms in many Western Balkan countries.

Serbia unlikely to win EU candidate status this year

The continued deadlock in Kosovo-Serb relations after this summer's violence is likely to prevent member states from granting Belgrade official EU candidate status at an upcoming summit in December.

EU to spend billions more on Arab revolutions

The European Commission aims to plough an extra €6.2 billion into EU neighbouring countries over the coming years, with the bulk of new resources to go to Arab revolutionaries.

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. China and Russia abusing corona for geopolitics, Lithuania says
  2. Worries on Europe's infection surge, after six-week drop
  3. EU wants large firms to report on gender pay-gap or face fines
  4. EU Commission cannot hold Frontex to account
  5. Orbán leaves EPP group - the beginning of a long endgame
  6. 'Corporate due diligence'? - a reality check before EP votes
  7. Austrian ex-minister joins list of EU's pro-Kremlin lobbyists
  8. Internal Frontex probe to deliver final report this week

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us