A CONVERSATION WITH GABRIEL ESCOBAR AND MIROSLAV LAJCAK - Recent progress in normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo through the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue is threatened by escalating tensions in the north of Kosovo. On June 14, Serbian forces detained three Kosovo police officers, accusing each other of illegal border crossings. In response, Kosovo Prime Minister Kurti banned vehicles with Serbian license plates from entering the territory. Earlier, the Serb majority population in the north of Kosovo boycotted local municipal elections in April due to a dispute over car license plates, resulting in Kosovo Albanian candidates winning with only 3.5 percent voter turnout. Protests erupted when four mayors, under special police protection, entered the municipal buildings, and causing injuries to NATO peacekeeping troops a few days later.
On June 20, Deputy Assistant Secretary Gabriel Escobar and EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak joined the Atlantic Council to discuss recent developments in the region, the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, US-EU cooperation in the region, and how to ensure the implementation of the Ohrid and Brussels agreements. Additionally, the event offered insights into how the US and EU aim to help diffuse tensions and find potential solutions for Serbia and Kosovo to establish more stable relations.
ORIGINAL AIRDATE: 6/20/23