Kosovan PM sets tough conditions for suspending 100% tariffs for Serbia and Bosnia

Kosovan PM sets tough conditions for suspending 100% tariffs for Serbia and Bosnia
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje January 29, 2019

Kosovan Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said on January 29 that Kosovo will suspend 100% tariffs imposed on goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, if the US and the EU help the country to reach a comprehensive deal with Belgrade. The deal should include recognition of Kosovo as a separate country, Haradinaj said. 

Kosovo imposed 100% tariffs on both countries on November 21, after Kosovo failed to gain Interpol membership due to Serbian pressure on other countries to vote against.

Haradinaj said in a letter to the ambassadors of the US, France, Germany, Italy and the UK as well as to EU representatives that the measure was taken as a “response to ongoing violations of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and acts of aggression aimed at damaging the state of Kosovo.”

Haradinaj has now set conditions for suspending the tariffs, which is for the US and the EU to initiate and support an international conference for reaching a comprehensive and legally binding agreement between Kosovo and Serbia that will resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries.

The conference should begin as soon as possible and finish within two weeks.

The US and the EU should also ensure that the conference will not raise the issue of territorial exchanges or partition of Kosovo, or to give executive powers to the Association of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo that are against the Kosovan Constitution, the Kosovan prime minister said. 

The EU should also guarantee that the delayed visa liberalisation will enter into force for Kosovan citizens and that the Energy Agreement reached between Kosovo and Serbia will be fully implemented before the start of the conference.

Haradinaj wants the EU to ensure that Serbia will remove all non-tariff barriers to the movement of goods from Kosovo as well as all illegal restrictions on trade in services.

At the end, Haradinaj asked Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic to publicly confirm that all actions directed against Kosovo’s aspirations as a sovereign country will be permanently halted.

The 100% tariff will be re-established immediately if the conference does not end with a comprehensive, obligatory agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, under which Serbia should recognise Kosovo as a separate state and the country to gain membership in the UN, Haradinaj said. 

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and it is still regarded by Belgrade as renegade province. Bosnia has not yet recognised Kosovo either as a result of the veto imposed by one of the two entities, the Bosnian Serb-dominated Serb Republic.

Meanwhile, exporters from Macedonia and Albania benefited the most from the tariffs on Bosnia and Serbia as Kosovo turned to these neighbours for its imports.