European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (C) speaks during a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 18 October 2023. The EU Parliament's session runs from 16 till 19 October. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND

European Parliament Calls on Commission and Council to Consider Measures Against Serbia, After Banjska Attack

The European Parliament approved a resolution condemning the terrorist attack on Kosovo police that occurred in Banjska village on September 24, that resulted in the death of police officer Afrim Bunjaku and the injury of two other officers. The resolution calls for sanctions against Serbia, if its involvement is proven, and removal of sanctions for Kosovo. 

The European Parliament, EP,  on Thursday via a resolution has called upon all Member States to join in condemning the attack on Kosovo Police on September 24 and emphasized its commitment to closely monitor the ongoing investigations conducted by Kosovan authorities and urged the European Union to offer support for these investigations. 

Furthermore, the resolution urges Serbia to fully cooperate in the investigative process.

The resolution also discusses the possibility of extraditing terrorists of the attack to Kosovo. 

The EP “calls on the Kosovan authorities to disclose all the evidence regarding the incident; calls on international institutions in Kosovo, including EULEX, to assess the evidence; urges Serbia to fully cooperate with the investigations and to bring those responsible for the attack who are currently residing in Serbia to justice in accordance with the law, including their extradition to Kosovo”, the resolution states.

The EP states that it took note of the fact that Serbia observed three national days of mourning and that the three dead terrorists were portrayed as heroes who fought for the cause of Serbs, which has greatly increased political tensions in the region.

It also called for a full clarification of the potential role Russia played in the attack that took place in Banjska.

The EP resolution called on Serbia to refrain from any further escalation that undermines the constitutional order of the Republic of Kosovo, and to prevent any smuggling of weapons across the border.

“EU urges further, in this regard the Kosovan authorities to work towards open trade for all civilian goods and services”, was stated in the resolution text.

Furthermore, the EP calls on the Commission and the Council to consider measures against the Serbian Government if investigations reveal Serbia’s direct involvement in the Banjska terrorist attack or the violent incidents in the north of Kosovo in May 2023. 

“In this context EU parliament calls on the Commission to freeze the funding provided to Serbia under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance III if investigation findings indicate that the Serbian State was directly involved in these attacks; calls on the Council to adopt targeted restrictive measures, including but not limited to asset freezes and travel bans, against destabilizing actors in the north of Kosovo and the leaders of major organized crime networks; calls on the Council, in this context, to follow the example of the United States and impose targeted measures against Milan Radoicic”,   it is emphasized in the resolution text.

The resolution also highlights concerns about Serbia’s aggressive military behavior, radicalized political messaging, and indications of the Serbian State’s involvement in recent political violence in Kosovo’s north.

Furthermore,  the EP called upon EU Member States to swiftly deploy additional troops in Kosovo and increase EULEX units on the ground, if necessary, to enhance its role as a security responder in northern Kosovo.

 It also urged increased international and cross-border cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo, with a focus on targeting organized crime.

While they expressed concern with the evidence linking these criminal groups to the state of Serbia.

The EP also deplored the Belgrade court’s rejection of the detention request for Milan Radoicic, who claimed responsibility for organizing the attack on September 24, and expressed deep concern that all responsible parties for the Banjska attack may not be brought to justice.

The EU called for a comprehensive investigation of all ethnic-related attacks in Kosovo, including those on the Bistrica bridge and in Shterpce/Štrpce on Orthodox Christmas Eve in January 2023.

“EU calls for a proper investigation of all ethnic-related attacks throughout Kosovo, including the attacks on the Bistrica bridge and in Shterpce/ Štrpce on Orthodox Christmas Eve”.

The Resolution of the  EU Parliament called for a more citizen-oriented approach in the dialogue between relevant parties and more resources to be allocated to the EU-facilitated dialogue through the European External Action Service. 

It emphasizes that the September 24, 2023 attack should not distract from the normalization dialogue and urges Serbia to regain credibility in this process.

The resolution also stresses that Serbia needs to commit publicly to the participation of Kosovo Serbs in the elections in four municipalities in northern Kosovo, since Srpska Lista has already announced its unconditional participation.

The Resolutions stated that it regrets the negative measures the Council has taken against Kosovo and calls for them to be lifted as soon as possible.

“The Parliament calls on the Commission to draw up and present a transparent and ambitious roadmap for Kosovo’s path to integration by the end of the year”.

Regarding the dialogue process between the two countries, the EU parliament called on the Commission to act as an honest broker in the normalization process and to avoid any policy of appeasement towards Serbia, also called on the Serbian authorities and media to refrain from hate speech against Kosovans and the dissemination of lies about ‘ethnic cleansing’ and ‘pogroms’ in Kosovo, for which there is no evidence.

Furthermore, the Resolution recalls that the agreement on visa liberalization for Kosovo is not and should not be linked to the dialogue and should enter into force on 1 January 2024 at the latest.

19/10/2023 - 18:00

19 October 2023 - 18:00

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