US and EU issue statements highlighting concerns over Kosovo government actions against Serbia-run organisations News
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US and EU issue statements highlighting concerns over Kosovo government actions against Serbia-run organisations

The US and the EU issued statements on Saturday and Friday highlighting their concerns over the Kosovo government’s recent actions in relation to the raiding of Serbian-run organisations, as well as the banning of Serbian currency.

The US Ambassador to Kosovo, Jeffrey M. Hovenier, said that the US government was “deeply concerned about recent actions by authorities of the Government of Kosovo that have a direct and negative effect on members of the ethnic Serb and other minority communities in Kosovo.” These actions include Kosovar authorities raiding the offices of several Serbian institutions and implementing the ban on Serbian currency through the forced seizure of vehicles transporting the Dimar. Accordingly, the US and EU have called on the Government of Kosovo to “avoid unilateral actions that could raise tensions, and to address these issues through the EU-facilitated Dialogue.”

The Central Bank announced earlier this month that they had approved the “Regulation on Cash Operations,” which was ostensibly to control financial institutions and have clear guidelines for controlling the amount of money in circulation, stopping counterfeit money, preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, all as a way to protect consumers and as safeguard the integrity of the financial system. It also states that the Euro should be the only currency used in the country, removing the Serbian Dimar from circulation.

The new rules were due to start on February 1, but critics of the new regulations have said that they will hurt the Serb minority in the country, who currently use the Dimar for a range of financial transactions, including pensions and certain salaries. Indeed, since the ban began, it was reported that Kosovo Serbs were still using the Dimar. The government announced that there would be a transitional period, but police seized vehicles transporting the Dimar, which Hovenier said were being used to “distribute social benefit payments from Serbia.”

Furthermore, according to the statement from the EU, the raiding and closure of Serbian-run organisations are likely to have a detrimental effect on “the daily lives and living conditions of Kosovo-Serb Communities, as it will restrict their access to basic social services given the apparent absence of alternatives at this moment.”

Serbia does not recognise the independence of Kosovo since its declaration of independence in 2008, which has continued to escalate hostile feelings in the region. The EU and NATO had recently committed to stabilising the area amid rising tensions, and Hovenier called on Kosovo to “promote the vision set forth at its founding…one of a fully multiethnic democracy that is responsive to the concerns of all of its citizens.”