Kosovo lifts all tariffs on Serbia, Belgrade calls it a trick

Kosovo's interim PM Albin Kurti

Kosovo has lifted 100% tariff on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, interim PM Albin Kurti said in a TV 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 like Interpol. 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." 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 Kurti added that the new measures would be followed until 15 June and would be withdrawn if there was no reciprocity.

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 did not abolish fees. Don't get caught up in fake news," government spokesman Marko Djuric said. "This does not de-escalate the situation and does not return to the situation before the introduction" of the taxes," Djuric added. "Pristina continues to play with this issue and...this decision is a play intended for the international community."

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.


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