The European Union has prepared initial measures, such as sanctions against Kosovo due to the government’s failure to respond to the demands for immediate steps to reduce tensions in the north, Radio Free Europe learns from diplomatic sources.
According to these measures, the sanctions will include the suspension of invitations for Kosovo’s participation in high-level events and bilateral visits from the European Union and member states. Meetings will only take place when they need to focus on addressing the crisis in northern Kosovo and steps to find a solution.
Another sanction is expected to involve the suspension of the joint work of groups existing between Kosovo and the EU, which were established based on the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA).
A subcommittee meeting, the one on trade, industry, customs, and taxes, has already been suspended, which was supposed to take place on June 8th but did not happen. The next meeting expected to be suspended is on June 21st and 22nd, the subcommittee on justice, freedom, and security.
There will also be financial consequences for Kosovo. A significant suspension of financing by the EU is planned for several projects for which Kosovo has submitted proposals under the Western Balkans Investment Fund.
As a sanction against Kosovo, the EU has also anticipated reducing the level of public presence in joint developments and events where members of the Kosovo government participate. This measure is expected to include meetings within the framework of financial cooperation.
Diplomatic sources state that engagement with the authorities in Kosovo in all these areas will return to normal once the Kosovo government takes the steps expected by the EU within the dialogue, which have been expressed in several public statements. Above all, there are demands for the withdrawal of special police units from municipal buildings in the north and the announcement of new local elections.
Tensions in the north have escalated since May 26th, when the Kosovo Police assisted Albanian mayors of the municipalities of Zvečan, Zubin Potok, and Leposavić in taking control of municipal facilities despite resistance from local residents.
Tensions reached a climax on May 29th when local Serbs clashed with soldiers of the NATO mission in Kosovo, KFOR. Dozens of people were injured in the clashes from both sides.
These mayors were elected on April 23rd, but the elections were boycotted by Serbian local parties and population.
The EU and the United States have presented Kurti with three requests: calming the situation in the north, holding new elections in the four municipalities in the north, and returning to the dialogue towards the normalization of Kosovo-Serbia relations.
However, Kurti has presented a five-point plan, which includes:
- Rule of law in the four northern municipalities and identification and prosecution of those who attacked the police, KFOR, and journalists.
- Immediate withdrawal of violent groups from the territory of Kosovo.
- The Kosovo Police, KFOR, and EULEX to conduct joint security assessments every 15 days.
- The Government of Kosovo will coordinate with all stakeholders and announce snap elections in the four northern municipalities, to be held in a free and democratic atmosphere.
- Kosovo and Serbia return to dialogue immediately, with the EU ensuring the implementation of the reached agreement, and a high-level meeting is organized in the coming week.
Nevertheless, the EU has stated that the Kosovar Prime Minister has not taken the necessary steps to reduce tensions in the north.
The United States has also canceled Kosovo’s participation in the military exercises “Defender Europe ‘23”, considering it the first punitive measure against Kosovo due to its failure to meet the demands of the international community.