By Jasmina Kuzmanovic and Misha Savic May 31, 2020
Kosovo’s outgoing government set new conditions for imports from neighboring Serbia and Belgrade immediately rejected them as unacceptable, dashing hopes for the restoration of talks between the two Balkan foes, according to media reports from both countries.
The government of Albin Kurti, the caretaker premier, ruled that shipments from Serbia must be labeled with documents that clearly recognize Kosovo as a country, the Pristina-based Gazeta newspaper said on its website on Sunday, publishing a facsimile of the decision. Serbia, which has vowed never to recognize its former province as a separate nation, demanded the measure be annulled, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said in an interview with Belgrade-based state broadcaster RTS.
While the development may further delay the normalization of ties between the neighbors, continuing the policy will probably fall to a new government set to replace Kurti’s coalition cabinet as early as this week. Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 unilateral secession, though both need to resolve their disputes to be considered for European Union membership.
“We have no intention to resume the dialogue until these measures are annulled,” Dacic said on RTS. “Serbia will not recognize Kosovo, but it wants a dialogue, a compromise.”
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after a war that ended with a NATO bombing campaign against Belgrade-backed forces. The EU-mediated talks stalled in 2018 after Serbian lobbying against Kosovo’s membership in international bodies triggered a retaliatory 100% tax on exports from the larger neighbor.
Earlier this year, Kurti agreed to gradually remove the tariff under the condition that Serbia stops its global campaign to prevent Kosovo’s recognition as a sovereign state.