Ethnic Serbs close shops in Kosovo’s north in protest over 100% import tariffs

By bne IntelliNews July 1, 2019

Shops in the northern part of Kosovo, populated mainly by ethnic Serbs, have been closed since the morning of July 1 in a protest against the 100% tariffs imposed by Pristina on Serbian products, media reported.

In solidarity, petrol stations and taxi drivers also did not work, but bakeries are still working though at reduced capacity.

Kosovo imposed 100% tariffs on imported goods from Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina in November 2018 after Kosovo’s bid to join Interpol was thwarted by Serbia. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. It is still not recognised as a separate country by Serbia or Bosnia.

Initially many local businesses ignored the measure and supplies came from Serbia via illegal channels until the end of May, when police launched a major crackdown and arrested around 20 ethnic Serb policemen who were accused of assisting smuggling.

According to local traders, there have been no goods from Serbia in the north of Kosovo for more than two weeks.

They refuse to purchase goods from ethnic Albanian distributors from the southern part of Kosovo instead, portal Kossev reported on July 1.

Rados Petrovic, head of the Association of Businessmen from North Kosovo, did not say how long the stores would be closed but urged Belgrade, Pristina and the international community to get involved in solving the problem as soon as possible.

The Serbian authorities have repeatedly said that north Kosovo is threatened by a "humanitarian catastrophe".

Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said earlier that taxes will be lifted once Serbia recognises Kosovo as a state.

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