Borrell on behalf of the EU: CSM is a priority; police actions in the north and expropriation could lead to new tensions

Đuzep Borelj
Source: Kosovo Online

Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, stated after a high-level meeting in the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue on September 14 in Brussels that the EU expressed concern because, as he stated, the parties were not fulfilling their obligations under the Agreement on the normalization of relations and its Implementation Annex, which had been, as he reminded, agreed upon earlier this year, were binding, and played a role in the European path of Kosovo and Serbia.

In a statement published on the European Council's website, it is emphasized that the parties needed to engage constructively and in good faith, which means starting implementation based on the EU proposal without further delay, and also includes the commitment of both parties to fully implement all previous dialogue agreements.

"The work to establish the Association/Community of Serb Majority Municipalities needs to start without any further delay or pre-condition," the statement said, with Kosovo marked with an asterisk.

The EU reminds the Parties of their responsibility to uphold the principle of confidentiality in the Dialogue, which is a key component of any politically sensitive negotiation process.

The EU remains equally concerned over the lack of progress from both Parties in de-escalating the tensions in the north of Kosovo, several months after the latest flare-up of violence which left citizens, KFOR troops, law enforcement, and media representatives wounded.

Despite repeated calls by the EU and other international partners, as pointed out, the steps taken so far remain insufficient and the security situation in the north remains tense.

"In this context, moves by Kosovo – including on expropriations of land in the north of Kosovo, eviction orders, on telecommunication, and on the use of Special Police forces for community policing duties – are not in accordance with the Rule of Law and risk contributing to further increase of tensions," the statement said.

It is also added that "continuous small-scale attacks by criminal groups and intimidation of newly recruited Kosovo Serb police cadets / the local population are unacceptable and must stop immediately. Serbia’s blocking of the Energy roadmap, as well as other attempts inconsistent with the Agreement on the path to Normalisation and its Annex, run counter to the spirit of the Dialogue process."

As stated, the demands made in the statement on behalf of the 27 EU member states from June 3 remain fully valid.

"The reversible measures that the EU has taken remain in place, including the suspension of high-level meetings with Kosovo. The EU stands ready to lift these measures in case of progress in fulfilling the existing requests, or assess further measures towards both parties, if needed," the statement emphasizes.

The EU recalls the importance of swiftly holding early local elections in the north of Kosovo to help defuse the tensions and emphasizes that the quickest solution to enable the calling of the elections is necessary.

It encourages Serbs in Kosovo to fully engage in the electoral process and publicly express their unconditional participation.

The EU calls on all political actors, at all levels of governance, in both Kosovo and Serbia, to engage constructively in the process leading to early local elections in the north of Kosovo, avoid further escalatory steps, and support progress in the EU-facilitated Dialogue.

The EU expresses full support to the efforts of High Representative Josep Borrell in his capacity as Facilitator of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, as well as to EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak, and reminds the Parties that the European path of both Kosovo and Serbia goes through the EU-facilitated Dialogue and through the normalization of their relations.

"Both parties risk losing opportunities for progressing on their European paths," the statement concludes.