PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The European Union official who oversees the process for admitting new member countries urged Kosovo’s government Monday to rescind a recently imposed 100 percent tariff on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn met with Kosovo’s top officials in Pristina after morning talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. While still in Serbia, Hahn wrote on Twitter that he planned to called on Kosovo officials “to unblock regional cooperation and trade and stress the need to return to the #dialogue.”
Last month, Kosovo’s government imposed the tariff on Serbian imports saying it would stay in place until Serbia recognizes Kosovo’s independence and stops preventing it from joining international organizations such as Interpol.
“Kosovo was obliged to take this step following continuous obstacles that Serbia has done and continues to do to Kosovo,” Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said in a statement after meeting with Hahn.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The EU has said that normalized ties between the two are a condition for the countries to become members. But seven years of EU-mediated negotiations appear to have stalled amid revived friction between Pristina and Belgrade.
Serbia’s leader said he was ready to return to the negotiations as soon as Kosovo lifts the sanctions on Serbian imports.
“Pristina’s (tax) measures lead to the full destabilization of the whole region and could lead to the escalation of tensions,” Vucic said in a statement.
Ten lawmakers representing Kosovo’s ethnic Serb minority closed themselves inside their Parliament office Sunday to protest the import tariffs, asking for a meeting with Hahn to express their concerns. The head of the EU office in Pristina met with them Monday, but they remained in the office to wait for Hahn.
Semini reported from Tirana, Albania. Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.