Tuesday

18th Sep 2018

Kosovo killing halts EU talks in Brussels

  • An Ivanovic election poster from 2013 (Photo: Allan Leonard)

Serbia has walked out of EU talks on better relations with Kosovo after what it called the "terrorist" killing of a Serb politician in Kosovo.

"The murder of Oliver Ivanovic is an act of terror aimed at destabilising the situation in Kosovo and an attack against all Serbian people. We are terminating the negotiations," the Serb delegation said on Twitter on Tuesday (16 January) before returning from Brussels to Belgrade.

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

  • Bridge to north Mitrovice (Photo: morbin)

The talks were meant to have lasted three days. An EU source said it was too early to say when they might resume.

Serb president Aleksandar Vucic, who called a meeting of the National Emergency Council in Serbia the same day, said: "The perpetrators will be caught, and if they [Kosovo authorities] don't do it, we will."

Ramush Haradinaj, the Kosovar prime minister, said: "Kosovo remains committed to create a safe environment for all its citizens and is powerfully set in its Euro-Atlantic path".

Shot in broad daylight

An unknown gunman shot Ivanovic outside his office in north Mitrovica, a Serb enclave in Kosovo, on Tuesday morning.

The 64-year old politician died of his wounds on the way to hospital.

The EU and US have appealed for "calm and restraint" and for swift action by Kosovo police.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini also phoned Vucic and Kosovo president Hashim Thaci and pledged that the EU's rule of law mission in Kosovo, Eulex, would "support" the manhunt.

Nato, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the UN issued similar messages.

"The dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina has no alternative and we should not allow such acts to hinder it," Boyko Borisov, the prime minister of Bulgaria, the current EU presidency, said.

Ivanovic, the victim, was the head of a small, moderate political party called the Citizens Initiative, but he was also fighting war crimes charges in court.

The Western appeals for calm came amid high tension in the region.

The Kosovar government has tried to block an EU tribunal in The Hague on Kosovar war crime allegations, with some MPs threatening to "activate" former Kosovar guerrillas if indictments went ahead.

It has also refused to implement a previous EU-brokered deal with Serbia to devolve power to an Association of Serb Municipalities (ASM) in Mitrovica and other Serb-majority zones.

At the same time, Russia has aggravated nationalist and ethnic feeling by selling arms to Serbia and by accusing the EU of trying to create a "greater Albania" in Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia.

The EU is hoping that the Serbia-Kosovo talks, which began six years ago, could lead to a binding accord on "normal" relations by 2019, allowing Serbia to enter the EU in 2025.

The Serb and Kosovar delegations had come to Brussels on Tuesday at the level of chief negotiators on both sides to talk about the ASM, among other issues.

The Serb officials left before the first meeting began, the EU source said.

Serbia's Vucic added on Tuesday that he already had intelligence on who might have been behind the assassination, but declined to give details.

He said someone had dumped a burnt-out Opel Astra car nearby to act as a red herring.

"There are interesting details that point to who might be the killers," he said.

Interview

EU outshines Russia in Western Balkans

Russia cannot compete with the EU for attractiveness in the Western Balkans, but can play an 'obstructive' role, Albania's foreign minister said.

News in Brief

  1. EU investigating BMW, Daimler and VW 'collusion'
  2. Spain wants special Gibraltar chapter in Brexit deal
  3. Italy cancels Vienna talks over South Tyrol 'dual citizenship'
  4. Britain will not accept Brexit deal with Irish Sea border
  5. Slovakia seeks witness to journalist killing
  6. Finland's Stubb considers running for EU commission job
  7. Romania ponders anti same-sex marriage referendum
  8. EU lawyers back Slovenia in Croatia border dispute

Opinion

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  4. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  5. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  6. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  7. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  8. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  9. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  10. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  12. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want

Latest News

  1. EU promotes 'Egypt model' to reduce migrant numbers
  2. Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal
  3. New book: Why war is coming
  4. EU parliament will not budge on office expenses
  5. Why Orban's project to reshape EU politics will be unsuccessful
  6. 10 years after Lehman Brothers what has changed for EU consumers?
  7. Sefcovic launches bid to be EU Commission president
  8. Is Russia blackmailing the Council of Europe?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us