Sunday

29th May 2022

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 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.

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.

Opinion

Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine - the case for granting EU candidacy

Granting EU candidacy status to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will firmly anchor their ties with Brussels — and enable the EU to secure its place in the Black Sea region, connecting Europe to China and energy-rich Central Asia, bypassing Russia.

Opinion

The EU Parliament Covid inquiry: the questions MEPs must ask

A basic lack of transparency around the EU's vaccines procurement negotiations has prevented effective public and parliamentary scrutiny. It has also made it impossible to answer some of the key questions we put forward here.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us