NATO on Wednesday urged Serbia and Kosovo to lower tensions and not fuel an escalation of violence following the blockades of border crossings in Kosovo at the end of July.while recalling that the organization’s peacekeeping operation in Kosovo (KFOR) is ready to act if necessary.
NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenbergheld separate meetings this Wednesday with the Serbian president, aleksandar vucicand the prime minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurtyin the first of two days of both leaders in Brussels to seek a solution to the recent tensions, exacerbated by the announcement of the implementation of a ban on the use of Serbian identity documents and license plates in Kosovar territory.
“I am glad that the situation on the ground has improved, but we must avoid further escalation and unhelpful rhetoric”Stoltenberg warned after the Serbian president accused his Kosovar counterpart of preparing the massacre of Serbs in the north of his country and the prime minister of Kosovo raised the possibility of Serbia declaring war on him.
The Norwegian politician conveyed a parallel message to both leaders -who have not seen each other face to face today but will do so tomorrow in the dialogue sponsored by the European Union-: pending issues must be resolved on this platform coordinated by the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell.
Should the situation on the ground worsen, Stoltenberg stressed that KFOR is ‘ready to intervene if necessary’with actions such as a new deployment of troops in the north of Kosovo, where frictions are greater, or soldier patrols.
“Our actions will be proportionate and measured, but they will also be clear. We will do whatever it takes to prevent an escalation and to ensure the freedom and security of all communities in Kosovo.”said Stoltenberg, who recalled that KFOR is made up of 3,700 troops from 20 allied and 7 associated countries.
Despite the declarations of both together with the NATO secretary general, the rhetoric and crossed accusations predict a complicated meeting this Thursday with the head of community diplomacy, despite the fact that it is a dialogue forum opened by themselves in 2011 to normalize their relationships is key in their aspirations to enter the community club.
Vucic himself predicted a “difficult” meeting this Thursday, acknowledged that he disagrees with his Kosovar counterpart on almost nothing and called for “dialogue and negotiation” and “no blackmail against Serbia, about how it has to act or what it has to recognize”.
In a press conference with Stoltenberg, Vucic said he was aware that the history of his region “is not simple” but stated that, even without “agreeing on almost nothing” with Kurti, he considers peace and stability “of crucial importance.” ” for Serbia.
“Our history is not easy, but we want to further strengthen our cooperation and avoid any possibility of escalation or conflict”influenced Vucic
Kurti, for his part, assured that Kosovo has shown its commitment to protecting principles and values common to the Atlantic Alliance and regretted that the Serbian side is acting “illegal structures that have become criminal gangs”as well as Russian influence in Belgrade.
“In the current situation, the institutions and citizens of Kosovo have reason to be vigilant about the destructive approach from our northern neighbor to Kosovo and the region in general, within the framework of the Russian agenda that is detrimental to Europe and the Balkans”, he pointed out.
Serbia has defended the territorial integrity of Ukraine but has not aligned itself with the rounds of sanctions that the EU has been approving against Moscow for the aggression against its neighbor, despite the fact that Brussels hopes that the countries interested in joining the Union –Serbia has been a candidate to enter since 2012– support its foreign policy.
The next step in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina will be this Thursday in Brussels, although the high-level meetings on this platform have resulted in difficult and unfruitful negotiations so far, with the exception of some specific agreements.
Kosovo proclaimed in 2008 an independence that Serbia does not recognize and that has been supported by the United States and most of the EU partnersbut not by Russia, China, India, Brazil or Spain, among other states.
(With information from EFE)
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