Sunday

26th Jan 2020

EU criticises Kosovo over border stand-off

  • The bridge linking the Albanian and Serb sides of Kosovska Mitrovica (Photo: UNMIK)

The deployment of Kosovo special troops on the Serbian border was "not helpful" and done without consulting the EU or Nato, a commission spokeswoman said after one policeman was seriously injured in crossfire with Serbian protesters.

"We believe the operation by the Kosovo authorities was not helpful. We do not approve it," EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said during a press conference on Tuesday (26 July).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or join as a group

Kosovo special police troops on Monday night tried to take over control of two border posts in the majority-Serb dominated area, citing a government decision taken last week to block imports from Serbia. This came as a belated reaction to the trade embargo imposed by Belgrade in 2008, when Kosovo declared its independence.

The police deployment was met with resistance by the Serbian population, who barricaded access to the checkpoints. A policeman was taken to hospital with severe injuries after gunshots were fired from both sides, Reuters reports.

"This was not done in consultation with either the EU or the international community," Kocijancic said, urging both sides to return to dialogue.

"We believe the situation needs to calm down," she stressed.

Nato peacekeeping troops immediately moved to "defuse" the situation and to "reduce the level of tension," Carmen Romero, a spokeswoman for the military alliance said Tuesday in a separate press briefing.

"It is very important that the situation is solved peacefully," she said, adding that Nato is in close co-ordination with the EU justice mission on the ground (Eulex).

"What is clear is that violence is not the way, and that customs issues must be resolved through dialogue," Romero said.

According to Serbian news agency Tanjug, the situation seemed to have calmed down on Tuesday morning, with both Kfor and Eulex police withdrawing from the bridge at Kosovksa Mitrovica, linking the ethnic-Albanian south to the Serb-dominated north of the town.

Kfor and Eulex forces had closed the bridge late Monday night amid the escalating violence, but traffic was resumed around 5am, Tanjug reports.

The row, deemed as "completely unnecessary" by EU diplomats, is seen as a major setback after the EU had welcomed a recent thaw in Kosovo-Serb relations in June, when Belgrade agreed to recognise travel documents issued by Pristina.

But another round of talks due last week was cancelled by EU mediator Robert Cooper, believing it futile due to the trade row.

In a key move required to start EU membership talks, Serbia last week also extradited Goran Hadzic, the last top commander sought by the international court in the Hague, a month after delivering former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic.

EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail

European counter-intelligence services need to "seriously raise the level of vigilance" on Russian spies, UK activist Bill Browder has said after news of a botched operation at Davos.

China spy suspect worked for EU for 30 years

The former EU ambassador suspected by German prosecutors of spying for China was Gerhard Sabathil, according to EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

Nuclear arms race threat after EU rebukes Iran

EU powers have triggered a process that could bring the world back to 2006, when sanctions and threats were all that stood in the way of a Middle East nuclear arms race.

News in Brief

  1. Catalan premier refuses to step down, despite ruling
  2. UK set to support new fossil fuel projects in Africa
  3. Leftists MEPs travel to visit jailed Catalan MEP
  4. Bulgaria may expel Russian diplomats over 'espionage'
  5. EU, China, others agree on WTO body to settle disputes
  6. EU Commission makes move against Poland on judges law
  7. Soros pledges $1bn for liberal universities
  8. Merkel: Germany unprepared for 2015 refugee crisis

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Opinion

'A game of roulette' - life as a journalist now in Turkey

Turkey has more journalists behind bars than any other country in the world. The authorities seem to equate journalism with terrorism: everyone has the right to express themselves, but, in their eyes, legitimate journalism is a threat to security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. AI must have human oversight, MEPs recommend
  2. Second-hand cars flaw in EU Green Deal
  3. Why do EU arms end up in Libya despite UN ban?
  4. Brexit deal to be signed, as sides poised for tough talks
  5. Timmermans urges EU governments to tax carbon
  6. Vietnam sent champagne to MEPs ahead of trade vote
  7. China spy suspect had EU permission to work as lobbyist
  8. EU to unveil 5G 'toolbox' to tackle security threats

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us