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Visiting EU Commission Chief Urges Kosovo-Serbia Reconciliation

By RFE/RL September 29, 2021

During a visit to Pristina, the head of the European Union's executive branch called on Kosovo and Serbia to resolve their disputes through dialogue and to de-escalate recent tensions over license plates.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was in Kosovo's capital on September 29 as part of her regional tour before an EU-Western Balkans summit next week.

"It is vital that Kosovo and Serbia normalize their relations," von der Leyen said at a news conference with Kosovar Prime Minister Albin Kurti, describing the EU-facilitated dialogue as "the only platform to resolve the current crisis."

Both Kosovo and Serbia must improve mutual relations if they want to join the EU. Representatives of the two countries are meeting in Brussels this week, facilitated by EU envoy Miroslav Lajcak.

The renewed talks come as two border crossings between the two neighbors have been blocked by local Serbs since Kosovar authorities on September 20 required all drivers from Serbia entering Kosovo to use temporary printed registration details that are valid for 60 days.

The Kosovar government says the move is in retaliation for measures in force in Serbia against drivers from Kosovo since 2008, when Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. Belgrade does not recognize Kosovo's independence and therefore its right to take official actions such as registering cars.

Kosovo's government has deployed special police forces to the Jarinje and Brnjak border crossings to impose the new rule, while Serbian military jets and helicopters have been flying close to the border in an apparent show of force. The NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosovo has stepped up patrols on the border with Serbia.

The EU, NATO, and the United States have urged Pristina and Belgrade to exercise restraint.

Von der Leyen is visiting the six Western Balkan countries just days before the EU is set to hold a summit with Western Balkans countries on October 6.

Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia are at different stages on the EU membership path.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and RFE/RL's Balkan Service

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/leyen-kosovo- serbia-reconciliation/31484674.html

Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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