Following weeks of unrest and instability that threatened to undermine Western efforts to normalize relations, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti has proposed a plan for calming escalating tensions with neighbouring Serbia and Serb-dominated northern Kosovo.
Kurti presented a plan to ease tensions in the country’s north in a letter to the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, which the European media EURACTIV obtained.
Kurti expressed willingness to hold new elections in the north.
The action occurs after tensions in northern Kosovo between Kosovo Albanians and ethnic Serbs, who make up a minority of the country’s population but are a majority in the north and are loyal to Belgrade, erupted in recent weeks. It led NATO to send 700 extra peacekeepers to the region.
The EU and the US have promised ‘severe consequences’ if tensions do not decrease, and the criticism appears to have been directed more at Kurti than at Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who has long been considered a patron and supporter of Serbs in Kosovo’s north.
The escalation comes three months after Belgrade and its former province, which proclaimed independence in 2008, agreed to implement an EU-backed pact to normalize relations.
Kurti’s proposal begins with re-establishing the rule of law in four Serb-dominated communities in northern Kosovo.
The second stage would be for “violent groups” to be “immediately withdrawn from Kosovo’s territory, and any criminal act against Kosovo’s institutions to be immediately ceased.”
The suggested plan also calls for the “downgrading” of Kosovo police personnel at three municipal buildings in the country’s north.
The third point requests that Kosovo Police, NATO’s KFOR, and the EU’s rule of law mission, EULEX, “conduct joint security evaluations every 15 days to guarantee a secure and safe environment for everyone and to support the rule of law measures.”
The fourth item requests that Pristina “coordinate with all actors and announce early elections in the four northern municipalities.”
The final point requests that Kosovo and Serbia resume their EU-mediated conversation and that Brussels develop a roadmap for implementing the agreements.
The EU’s role is to “ensure a balanced and equitable sequencing plan for the carrying out of the Basic Agreement and its Implementation Annex”.
Kurti also indicated in his letter to Borrell that he and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic could meet in Brussels this week. However, there had been no immediate confirmation from the EU at the time of publishing this item.