Friday

20th Sep 2019

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Opinion

EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  2. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  3. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  4. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  5. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  6. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  7. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants
  8. Europe's refugee policy is test of its true 'way of life'

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us