The EU and US in a joint Wednesday statement called for swift action in Kosovo amid rapidly rising tensions. The statement urged all parties “to exercise maximum restraint, to take immediate action to unconditionally de-escalate the situation, and to refrain from provocations, threats, or intimidation.” The statement is in response to a rapidly deteriorating situation in Kosovo’s ethnically Serbian north.
Representatives from the EU and US welcomed Kosovo’s commitment to respecting peaceful protests. The goal of the two parties is to ensure the successful operation of the EU’s Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX). EULEX’s main mission is to promote human rights and fair access to state institutions regardless of minority status. However, Serbia has moved its military to its highest state of readiness. Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs, Bratislav Gašić, stated Serbia was prepared for “all measures to be taken to protect the Serbian people in Kosovo.”
Roadblocks erected by ethnic Serbs are restricting trade and peacekeeping movements. Additionally, recent attacks on journalists and North Atlantic Treaty Organization Kosovo Force (NATO KFOR) personnel are under investigation. Allegations of discrimination and violence are coming from both sides.
The recent rise in tensions is tied in part to Kosovo’s plan to phase out Serbian-issued license plates. Kosovo’s Serbian minority openly opposed the move and actively resisted implementation. Serbia does not recognize the independence of Kosovo.