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EU, US Working With Serbian, Kosovar Leaders to Defuse Tensions on Border

© AP Photo / Visar KryeziuKosovo police special unit members secure the area near the village of Cabra, north western Kosovo, during an ongoing police operation on Tuesday, May 28, 2019.
Kosovo police special unit members secure the area near the village of Cabra, north western Kosovo, during an ongoing police operation on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.12.2022
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The European Union and the United States are working with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti to find a peaceful solution to tensions unfolding on the border in recent weeks, the EU and US foreign services said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
"We are working with President Vucic and Prime Minister Kurti to find a political solution in order to defuse the tensions and agree on the way forward in the interest of stability, safety and well-being of all local communities," the statement said.
The EU External Action Service and the US State Department called on Kosovo and Serbia to "exercise maximum restraint, to take immediate action to unconditionally de-escalate the situation, and to refrain from provocations, threats, or intimidation."
They welcomed Kosovo's assurances that no local Serbs would be arrested or prosecuted for protesting peacefully or mounting barricades. The US said it would support the EU's Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo to ensure respect for human rights.
Serbian servicemen. File photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 27.12.2022
Serbia’s Armed Forces Put on Combat Alert Amid Kosovo Tensions
NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo dubbed the Kosovo Force (KFOR) on Wednesday called on all parties to engage in a dialogue to defuse tensions on the border.
"KFOR continues to closely monitor the situation on the ground and the activities along the ABL [the Administrative Boundary Line with Kosovo], supporting the dialogue to find an agreement to defuse tensions in northern Kosovo," the force said in a statement on Twitter.On December 10, Serbs in the north of Kosovo began setting up barricades in protest against the arrest of several Serb police officers by the Kosovar authorities over alleged war crimes and terrorism dating back to the 1998-1999 conflict.
On December 11, Vucic held a national security council meeting and accused Kosovo of violating existing agreements after Kurti urged the NATO-led regional contingent to dismantle road barricades erected by Serbs in Kosovo, whose independence Serbia and dozens of other countries never recognized. Kurti warned that if the mission refused to step in, Kosovo's security forces would carry out the operation themselves.
Serbs in the north of Kosovo mounted new barricades on key roads to and from Serbia earlier this week. Several days prior, Kosovar police said the Jarinje and Brnjak border checkpoints were closed due to barricades.
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