Wed, 27 May 2020

Kosovo's caretaker prime minister has assured a European Union special envoy of his commitment to resume dialogue on normalizing ties with neighboring Serbia.

Albin Kurti said in a letter to envoy Miroslav Lajcak on April 8 that a deal should be accompanied by a political, economic, and financial package to 'accelerate the convergence of the two countries' standards of living and their integration into the European Union.'

But Kurti warned that 'under no circumstances or situation will issues of mutual sovereignty, territorial integrity, and internal affairs be discussed.'

He added that any deal with Serbia should be guaranteed by the EU and the United States.

Last week Kosovo lifted a 100 percent tariff on imports from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina as a confidence-building measure to resume dialogue with Belgrade. The tariff had been a divisive issue in Kosovo and led to the collapse of Kurti's government.

Kosovo imposed the tariff in November 2018 over Serbia's 'de-recognition' campaign designed to get other countries who have already recognized Kosovo to withdraw it.

Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, declared independence in 2008 in a move rejected by Belgrade.

EU-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia to settle their differences have stalled.

Separately on April 8, a deadline expired for political parties to come up with a candidate for prime minister.

Kurti was toppled on March 25 and his Self-Determination (Vetevendosje, or VV) party, the largest in parliament, was supposed to renominate him or a replacement within 15 days.

The no-confidence vote was called by the VV's coalition partners, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), amid disagreements over the government's approach to the coronavirus crisis.

Kurti and VV insist that no new coalition is possible during the crisis and that early elections must be held as soon as possible.

Kurti's main rival, President Hashim Thaci, is calling for a government of national unity to tackle the crisis.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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