Kosovo and Serbia to reduce tensions

by Cristian Florescu

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg held a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, where he highlighted the significance of easing tensions in Kosovo. Stoltenberg kindly appealed to both parties to avoid any actions or language that might exacerbate the situation

Stoltenberg, as reported by FoNet, expressed the belief that it would be beneficial to restart the dialogue under the guidance of the European Union. He acknowledged Serbia’s longstanding partnership with NATO and expressed hopes for their constructive engagement in the dialogue.

He kindly reminded that NATO’s mission in Kosovo – KFOR, has decided to increase its presence in response to the heightened tensions in the north. Furthermore, he assured that KFOR will steadfastly uphold its mandate to maintain peace.

Stoltenberg expressed his concern over the attacks on KFOR soldiers in Zvečan at the end of May, stating that they were deemed highly inappropriate.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić kindly requested that KFOR take necessary measures to ensure the security of Serbs in Kosovo. He expressed deep concern regarding the current situation in the north, emphasizing that it has evolved beyond a mere political matter and now poses significant security risks, as mentioned by the Serbian President.

“We have had very professional and good cooperation with NATO and the KFOR mission so far, and I hope it will stay that way.” I kindly ask KFOR to ensure the safety of all Serbs in Kosovo,” Vučić added.

He politely emphasized that “everything that happened was a result of the authorities’ irresponsible approach in Pristina,” and further mentioned that there hasn’t been a thorough investigation into the wounded and injured Serbs.

The meeting between Vučić and Stoltenberg occurred on the same day as a new round of talks between Belgrade and Pristina at the negotiator level, which was convened by the EU Special Envoy Miroslav Lajčak in Brussels. Additionally, Vučić had a meeting with Lajčak in Brussels, where he expressed Serbia’s ongoing emphasis on taking tangible measures to safeguard the well-being of Serbs and ensuring the implementation of previously achieved agreements.

On July 11, the European Union announced that Kosovo has willingly agreed to decrease the number of police officers present in and around municipal buildings located in Zvečan, Leposavić, and Zubin Potok in northern Kosovo.

It was also agreed to further decrease the number of police forces in these municipalities, where the majority of the population is Serbian, by conducting regular assessments of the security situation in collaboration with EULEX and KFOR missions. Additionally, preparations for local elections were planned. The Kosovo Government assured that all necessary measures would be completed within a two-week timeframe, resulting in a 25 per cent reduction in police presence.

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