Brussels — The European Union (EU) will hold crisis talks on Thursday with the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo, as the bloc seeks to ease the latest spike in tensions.
“I have called the leaders of Serbia & Kosovo to Brussels for urgent meetings to find the way out of the current crisis,” the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said.
“We need immediate de-escalation & new elections in the north with participation of Kosovo Serbs. This is paramount for the region & EU,” Borrell tweeted.
The latest flare-up between the two sides came over the detention last week of three Kosovo police officers by Serbia after weeks of tension over disputed elections in Serb-majority northern Kosovo.
Rioting by ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo saw 30 NATO peacekeepers injured in late May.
We need immediate de-escalation & new elections in the north with participation of Kosovo Serbs. This is paramount for the region & EU
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) June 22, 2023
The EU had threatened Kosovo with political consequences such as suspending high-level visits and financial cooperation if it does not reverse course on the elections.
Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have persisted since a war in the late 1990s that drew NATO intervention against Belgrade.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade has refused to recognise it.
Serbs in Kosovo remain largely loyal to Belgrade, especially in the north, where they make up a majority and reject every move by Pristina to consolidate its control over the region.
Serbia has long seen Kosovo as its spiritual and historical homeland, the scene of pivotal battles over the centuries. It continues to host some of the Serbian Orthodox Church’s most revered monasteries.