Russia has assured friendly Serbia of its support in the conflict with neighboring Kosovo. “We absolutely support Serbia,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday in Moscow, according to the Interfax agency.
“We support the peaceful and constructive position of Belgrade in this context.” The Kremlin spokesman described new travel rules for Serbs living in Kosovo, which had led to serious tensions at the weekend, as “absolutely unjustified demands” from the Kosovar side.
The EU had previously invited the parties to the conflict to a crisis meeting in Brussels following the renewed escalation in Kosovo. The aim is to advise on how to proceed and to prevent such tensions from recurring, said a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Monday in Brussels. The disputes could only be settled through dialogue and negotiations.
According to the spokesman, the EU was invited after Kosovo, at the request of Borrell and the USA, had agreed to initially suspend controversial travel rules for Serbs.
This stipulates that no Serbian identity documents will be recognized at the border crossings. Instead, Serbs should have a provisional document issued there starting this Monday. The Kosovan authorities justify this with an identical procedure by the Serbian authorities when Kosovan citizens cross the border.
In reaction to the planned new regulation, militant Serbs erected barricades on Sunday in the predominantly Serb-populated north of Kosovo. In addition, shots are said to have been fired in the direction of Kosovan police officers.
All parties involved must remain calm and stop measures that endanger local stability and security and impede the free movement of citizens, a Borrell spokesman said on Monday about the dispute. The European Union and the Member States followed the events and developments with concern.
The EU has been trying for years to help clarify the relationship between Serbia and Kosovo. This is extremely tense because Kosovo, which is now almost exclusively inhabited by Albanians, split from Serbia in 1999 with the help of NATO and declared its independence in 2008.
More than 100 countries, including Germany, recognized Kosovo’s independence. Others, including Serbia, Russia, China and five EU countries, have not done so to this day.
A date for the planned meeting in Brussels was initially not given. The Defense Committee of the Bundestag also wants to deal with the tensions between Serbia and Kosovo at a special session on Wednesday.