Edtstadler on the Kosovo conflict: “The situation is very worrying”
Europe Minister Edtstadler is very concerned about the tense situation in Kosovo. Other ÖVP politicians find much sharper words against Belgrade. This would have “led Kosovo by the nose for years”. Meanwhile, Russia, considered an ally of Serbia, accuses Pristina of “provocations”.
The situation on the Serbian-Kosovar border is very tense. Gunfire exchanged over the weekend, but no one was injured. Serbs had erected street barricades in northern Kosovo in protest against a controversial measure taken by the Kosovan government regarding planned border controls. Pristina reacted by postponing the new regulation – and sent special units to the border.
Albanian President Kurti sent a special unit from the Kosovar police to the border.
The tensions arose because the Kosovan authorities no longer wanted to recognize Serbian identity documents at the border crossings from Monday. Serbs with such papers must have a provisional document issued at the border. According to the Kosovan interpretation, this is a measure based on reciprocity.
“Serbia has been fooling Kosovo for decades”
Europe Minister Karoline Edtstadler (ÖVP) described the tense situation on the Serbian-Kosovar border as “very worrying”. “To ensure that the current situation does not escalate further and that the parties concerned return to the negotiating table, we must do everything in our power to ensure that all sides continue to participate in the process initiated by the EU,” Edtstadler said in a statement. The ÖVP-EU MP Lukas Mandl found sharper words towards Belgrade: “Serbia has been fooling Kosovo for decades. But all sides are required to avoid violence at all costs. Those who use violence as a means of aggression are doing themselves wrong.”
Aleksandar Vucic wants to turn a small part of northern Kosovo into Serbian territory.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a move recognized by most Western countries. In addition to Serbia and the UN veto power Russia, five EU states have not taken this step either, which is why Kosovo’s status under international law remains controversial.
After riots between the Serbian and Albanian civilian populations, NATO launched an air war against what was then Yugoslavia in 1999, which led to the establishment of a UN administration in the area. A NATO-led force, which is still present, was supposed to ensure security. Soldiers from the Austrian Armed Forces are also on a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. A normalization dialogue initiated by the EU in 2011 between Belgrade and Pristina has been stalled for years. The biggest point of contention is the implementation of the agreed autonomy of northern Kosovo, which has a Serb majority.