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Kosovo: Serbia not recognizing its borders threatens peace

February 8, 2019

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s government said Friday that recent comments from Serbia’s president not recognizing its borders threaten peace and security.

A statement said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s words a day earlier not recognizing Kosovo’s internationally accepted borders “are unacceptable and introduce a serious threat of Kosovo’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

It added they “threaten peace, stability and security in Kosovo, the region and wider.”

Kosovo-Serbia ties have been strained after Pristina’s decision to set a 100 percent import tariff on Serb and Bosnian goods until Belgrade recognizes its sovereignty and stops preventing it from joining international organizations. Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008, but Serbia has not recognized its independence.

The European Union-facilitated dialogue between the two countries, which started in 2011, has stalled, with Belgrade saying it won’t take part until the tariff is lifted.

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci called on the Cabinet to suspend the tariff on Serb goods, saying the U.S. and EU have suggested giving “a chance to the dialogue through temporary suspension of the tax.”

“Refusal of such an advice could have repercussions in the future,” he warned.

In a joint open editorial, the U.S. ambassadors to Belgrade and Pristina — Kyle Scott and Philip S. Kosnett — urged both sides to return to talks.

They called on “Kosovo to suspend the tariffs, for Serbia to respond constructively, for provocations by both sides to end.”

They said if those actions are taken, “we are optimistic you can reach a historic normalization agreement in 2019.”

The ambassadors warned “if the two sides fail to seize this opportunity, you risk losing the best opportunity in a generation.”

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Llazar Semini contributed from Tirana, Albania.

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Follow Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini

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