Lajcak criticises extended reciprocal measures

The incumbent Kosovo Government has extended reciprocal trade measures with Serbia, drawing criticism from EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak and Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dacic.

Miroslav Lajcak, the EU’s special representative for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, has stated that he is “disappointed” with new reciprocal trade measures with Serbia introduced by the incumbent Kosovo Government. “Such unilateral actions undermine the Dialogue-resumption & should be removed immediately,” Lajcak tweeted on Sunday.

The incumbent government, led by Albin Kurti, amended its March 31 decision outlining the implementation of reciprocal measures with Serbia late on Saturday night. 

The new decision stipulates that, in trade relations with Serbia, documents for agricultural and industrial products that do not refer to ‘the Republic of Kosovo’, or contain any element that denies the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Kosovo, will be prohibited. 

Announcing the decision, the Kosovo Government stated that the Food and Veterinary Agency will also be required to use the emblem and the name Republic of Kosovo in all phytosanitary and veterinary certificates and that businesses from Serbia will also be required to receive an entry permit from the Liaison Office of the Republic of Kosovo in Serbia for each vehicle transporting goods into Kosovo. 

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Kurti stated that the result would be that “no lorry can enter Kosovo if their certificates do not include: the Republic of Kosovo.”

Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, reacted immediately, describing the measures as worse than the 100 per cent tax on Serbian goods imposed by the Kosovo Government in November 2018, and replaced by reciprocal measures in March.

Dacic told public broadcaster RadioTelevision Serbia that accepting the measures would be tantamount to recognising Kosovo, and that Serbia would not resume the dialogue until both the measures and tax were abolished. 

“Our position is extremely strong,” Dacic said. “There is no talk until reciprocal measures are abolished. Serbia will not recognize Kosovo, it wants dialogue, compromise.”

However, Kurti defended the position in a Tweet published later on Sunday. “Denying the principle of reciprocity to the Republic of #Kosova is to deny the exercise of its sovereign rights,” Kurti stated. “Kosova wants fair and just relations with its neighbours. Dialogue is between two equals & Serbia must see Kosova as an equal at every table.”

Avdullah Hoti, who looks set to become Kosovo’s next prime minister following last week’s Constitutional Court decision indicated his intentions to scrap the measures on social media on Sunday. “The new Gov of Kosovo will coordinate with Kosovo’s partners, removing obstacles to dialogue,” he tweeted.

This article was amended adding the reaction of Avdullah Hoti.

31/05/2020 - 15:42

31 May 2020 - 15:42

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.