Kosovo's Decision To Replace Tariffs With Reciprocity Measures 'Demagogic' Move - Moscow

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 06th April, 2020) The decision of outgoing Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti to replace 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods with measures that would, in effect, constitute some form of recognition of the self-proclaimed republic on the part of Serbia is just another "demagogic gesture" by Pristina, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The decision to replace 100 percent import duties on Serbian goods imposed in 2018 with reciprocity measures, or proportional restrictions, came into force last week. The decision was made by Kurti's cabinet before he was dismissed in a no-confidence vote in late March.

"Another demagogic gesture is the removal of tariffs [starting] from April 1, announced by Kosovo's 'acting prime minister,' Albin Kurti, who made this decision, which has actually a temporary status, subject to numerous conditions. First of all, the Kosovar administration insists on the 'principle of reciprocity,' forcing Belgrade to label products in accordance with Pristina's standards in other words, to agree with a reference to the self-proclaimed 'republic of Kosovo' in the documents, which would mean indirect recognition of this quasi-state," the statement read.

The ministry added that with this change, Pristina was "deliberately postponing resumption of the dialogue with Belgrade," and that even Washington, which has always supported Kosovo's independence, reacted negatively to the decision. The Russian Foreign Ministry also called on Kosovo to completely cancel tariffs on Serbian goods.

Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in February 2008, after years of conflict with Belgrade. As of now, the self-proclaimed republic is recognized by over 100 UN member states. Serbia, as well as Russia, China, Israel and several other countries, have not recognized Kosovar independence.

The EU-mediated talks between Belgrade and Kosovo, launched in 2013, are currently stalled. Serbs in Kosovo, who predominantly live in the north, meanwhile continue to face hardships, such as the consistent destruction of their cultural and religious heritage.