Members of the European Parliament said today that an impartial investigation into the armed conflict in the north of Kosovo is needed and the responsible justices should be brought to justice. They criticized the rhetoric of Belgrade, requested sanctions for Serbia and also for Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti due to the deadlock in the dialogue. The MPs also called for the strengthening of KFOR units in the north.
Spanish Secretary of State for European Union Affairs Pasqual Navarro Rios called again, on behalf of the EU, to stop hostilities between Serbia and Kosovo, and he strongly condemned the recent attack in the village of Banjska and demanded that those responsible be brought to justice. The council is concerned because there is a lack of effort by both sides to reduce tensions in the north and the EU is ready to take appropriate measures, in case no progress is made in the dialogue, including the holding of early local elections in Kosovo, Rios said. De-escalation and a return to dialogue is key, he concluded.
Condemnation for declaring a day of mourning
European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič pointed out that heavily armed individuals, in the middle of an arms smuggling operation, clashed with the Kosovo police. One Kosovo policeman was killed, three were wounded, and three people were killed in the exchange of fire, he said and pointed out that some of the wounded Serbs received help in Novi Pazar. That operation is unprecedented, the amount of weapons seized is huge and this causes us concern, because the situation in the north of Kosovo is extremely serious, Lenarčič said and called on Serbia to cooperate in order to prevent arms smuggling. Kosovo and Serbia should refrain from activities that could lead to escalation, he said and added that the EU is concerned about the rhetoric from Belgrade on this occasion, as well as the declaration of a day of mourning.
It is also clear that this operation shows that the military presence is increasing, and that all afterwards calls for a de-escalation of tensions. A quick deescalation is more urgent than ever, the perpetrators should be brought to justice and that attack should not be an excuse to abandon the dialogue on normalization, Lenarčič said. He expressed concern about the strengthening of military forces in the south of Serbia, ahead of the local elections in the north of Kosovo, and said that Kosovo should cooperate constructively. We have reached a key crossroads in the dialogue and both sides should enter into dialogue and normalize relations. The obligations are still binding, said the European Commissioner.
Lenarčič pointed out that the round of dialogue on September 14 showed that none of the parties is ready to really commit to normalization, despite intensive efforts, and that both parties are violating their obligations. I want to remind both sides that their path to the EU is through dialogue and normalization and that any further escalation will have a bad effect on that process, but also on the stability of the region, concluded Lenarčič.
Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur for Serbia, Vladimir Bilčik, pointed out that the situation on the ground is seriously escalating, because such violence has not been seen in the past 10 years. We need a real investigation and the bringing of responsible justices, and both sides bear the responsibility to return to the dialogue as soon as possible, said Bilčik, who added that it should be clearly stated that the return of Aljbin Kurti to power made the dialogue more difficult and stopped, instead of is progressing.
It is Belgrade’s responsibility to present us with the true facts. We don’t need superficial assigning of blame, but stabilization of the Balkans. This is what bothers Putin’s Russia, Bilchik said.
There is no compromise with violence and there is no result by force, the only solution is to return to dialogue, he pointed out.
Resignation of Lajčak requested
Member of the European Parliament Tonino Picula pointed out that this attack is proof of continuous tensions, which are constantly on the verge of escalation, and suggested the possibility to stop financing infrastructure projects.
Certain MPs assessed that it is a shame that the EU learns from the USA that Serbia is amassing an army in the south of Serbia, as well as that Lenarčič is in front of the MPs instead of High Representative Đosep Borelj and Miroslav Lajčak.
Some of them also suggested that Lajčak should consider resigning, because there are no results.
European Member of Parliament and rapporteur for Kosovo Viola von Kramon stressed that peace cannot be taken as something guaranteed in the Western Balkans, stating that shooting an Albanian policeman is a shot at peace, normal life and security in Kosovo.
The participation of Milan Radoičić is more than obvious and Serbia must participate in the investigation and find those responsible, and immediately withdraw the army from the border with Kosovo, said Von Kramon, who welcomed the strengthening of KFOR units.
Vučić was compared to Milošević
Numerous MPs criticized Serbian President Aleksnadr Vučić, stating that he threatened peace and stability by “pressing the button” for escalation, playing with fire, and accused him of doing the same thing as Slobodan Milošević in the early 1990s, that is, Vladimir Putin with the annexation of Crimea.
We need to show determination, what prevents us from introducing punitive measures against Serbia, said the MPs, asking the European Commission and the Council of the EU to take action.
A few members of the European Parliament pointed out that it makes no sense for Kosovo to integrate into the EU because it is not an independent state, that it is necessary to form the Union of Serbian Municipalities and support a series of international conventions that guarantee the special status of minority communities.
MPs from Croatia indicated that, if it is established that the Serbian government was behind this attack, the EU must clearly sanction it, so as not to destabilize the entire region.
The actions of this Serbian terrorist group and the method of attack are irresistibly reminiscent of the actions of Chetnik groups at the beginning of the aggression against Croatia, said one of them, but there were also views that it should be clearly stated that the frequent provocations faced by the Serbian minority in Kosovo, which says on the necessity of returning to the dialogue on normalization.