Although some progress was made over the past week with regard to Kosovo tensions, the EU was apparently not taking any chances, with the prime ministers of Luxembourg and the Netherlands continuing the full court press in Belgrade when it comes to de-escalation on Monday.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte highlighted together the importance of peace between Kosovo and Serbia, with the pair now scheduled to journey to Pristina for the second act.
Rutte said that Serbia and Kosovo must “take steps toward de-escalation,” but he also added that normalization of relations is key.
Kosovo and Serbia have butted heads all year, with violent protests in May and June overshadowing months of normalization talks and a “gentleman’s agreement” brokered by the EU. The most recent protests over ethnic Serb self-government in North Kosovo and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s decision to let local mayoral elections stand on the basis of only 3.5 percent participation came close to pushing both sides to armed conflict.
That risk remains, although both Kurti and Vucic have stepped down rhetoric, following a decision by Kurti to hold new elections and a Serb court’s ruling to release three Kosovo police officers who had allegedly crossed into Serbia with weapons.
Photo of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte by Jeroen Komen from Utrecht, Netherlands, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.