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Kosovo lifts all tariffs on Serbian, Bosnian goods

April 1, 2020

The tariffs had been imposed in 2018 as a result of Serbia's efforts to block Kosovo's access to international agencies like Interpol.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Albin Kurti giving a press conference
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Nimani

Kosovo has lifted its 100% tariff on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, interim Prime Minister Albin Kurtisaid in a televised interview on Wednesday. He also announced a reciprocity gesture, wherein all Serbian goods entering Kosovo should have documentation that certifies their quality. Goods going from Kosovo to Serbia already have such documentation. 

Kurti also said that Serbia should allow vehicles with Kosovar number plates and foreign people coming from Kosovo to enter freely.

The 100% tariffs had been imposed in November 2018 in retaliation for what Kosovo said was Serbia's efforts to block its accession to international organizations. Kosovo had also raised tariffs by the same amount on Bosnia and issued an outright ban on any goods that failed to address Kosovo as "The Republic of Kosovo."

Read more: EU's broken promises in the Balkans

The dispute led to the breakdown of EU-mediated talks, which had started in 2011.

Earlier in March this year, Kosovo had partially lifted the tariff on raw materials imported from Serbia.

Kurti added that the new measures would be followed until June 15 and would be withdrawn if there was no reciprocity.

A moment of harmony amid coronavirus

EU representative Josep Borrell reacted to the decision positively, calling for regional harmony as the world is facing the threat of coronavirus.

However, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic called Kosovo's phase-out a trick.

Kurti's newly elected coalition government was recently toppled in a vote of no confidence over the issue of the government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Kurti is currently serving as the caretaker prime minister.

Kosovo is a partially recognized nation in the Balkan region. It declared independence in 2008, but Serbia does not recognized this decision. Kosovo had been part of Serbia until 1998, when an armed uprising by its ethnic Albanian majority triggered an violent response from Serbs, leading to a NATO bombing intervention campaign in 1999.

tg/cmb (AP)

High tariffs cause smuggling boom in Kosovo

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