Hoxhaj: Serbia should promote good neighborly relations

Kosovo’s foreign minister Enver Hoxhaj has written to his counterparts in the European Union, the US and other countries denouncing what he said were “numerous acts of provocation and aggression” from Serbia.

Enver Hoxhaj called on the EU, which facilitates Pristina-Belgrade talks aimed at normalising ties, to urge Serbia to remain committed to good relations an official said. “The Republic of Kosovo encourages the European Union … to urge Serbia to remain committed to good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation and not interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries or take provocative actions which aim for the destabilisation of the region,” the minister wrote in a three-page letter.

The official did not explain how and which countries were chosen as recipients, only mentioning “the EU, US and other countries”.

Kosovo-Serbia relations reached a crisis point last weekend when a Serbian train bearing signs reading “Kosovo is Serbia”, and decorated in the colours of the Serbian flag and Christian Orthodox symbols, was turned back from the border with Kosovo.

The EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she had invited the two parties to a high-level meeting of the Dialogue of Normalisation of Relations between Belgrade and Pristina next week.

She tweeted: “Convening the Dialogue next Tuesday in Brussels: tensions show need for increased commitment by #Serbia and #Kosovo.”

Hoxhaj wrote that the train incident was “the last event in the chain of aggressive and provocative acts that Serbia has undertaken against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo”.

The minister said that earlier this month Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovan prime minister and a guerrilla commander in Kosovo’s 1998-99 war for independence from Serbia, was detained in France as Serbia demanded his extradition to face war crimes charges. Pristina says Haradinaj has twice been cleared of such charges by a UN tribunal.

In December the Serb ethnic minority in Mitrovica put a concrete wall on the northern part of the bridge over the Ibar river, calling it a technical support barrier against a landslide. Kosovo protested, and its parliament voted to demolish the wall.

Hoxhaj said Pristina had “acted with political maturity and in full accordance with domestic and international rules when countering Serbia’s hybrid threats, through peaceful dialogue and diplomatic methods.”

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but it has not been recognised by Belgrade.

Serbia, backed by Russia, has sought to maintain influence in Kosovo, especially in the north where most of the country’s Serb minority lives. NATO-led troops have controlled Kosovo’s territory since a three-month air war in 1999 to stop a Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists.

(The Guardian, 19.01.2017)


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