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Germany Presses Serbia Do More to De-Escalate Tensions With Kosovo

Top German diplomat Baerbock to head to Albania on Thursday for talks with Serbian and Kosovar counterparts, says Foreign Ministry spokeswoman

Germany on Wednesday called Serbia’s withdrawal of troops from the border with Kosovo an “important step,” but urged Belgrade to do more to de-escalate tensions with its neighbor. 

Talking to the media in Berlin, German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Kathrin Deschauer said the situation in the region is “quite worrying” in the wake of the latest round of deadly violence in northern Kosovo.

“Serbia has an obligation to unequivocally call for a renunciation of violence. Overall, the situation is of course tense. The first signs of a reduction in Serbian troops are an important step towards de-escalation. That notwithstanding, we want to stress again that further steps towards de-escalation must now be taken,” she said.

Serbia has reportedly begun to draw down its military buildup along the border with Kosovo over the past few days.

According to Deschauer, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock plans to travel to Albania this Thursday for talks with the foreign ministers of the Western Balkan countries.

Baerbock will also hold talks with her Kosovar and Serbian counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting as part of the so-called Berlin Process, which aims to promote rapprochement between the Western Balkan states and the EU.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, Michael Stempfle, reiterated that there are currently no plans to increase the number of German soldiers in the Kosovo Force (KFOR), a NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo.

There are currently 71 German soldiers in the Balkan country.

Tensions have risen since a Kosovar police officer and three local Serbian gunmen were killed in a clash on Sept. 24 in the northern Kosovo village of Banjska.

A large number of security forces were dispatched to the region, and the Brnjak border crossing between Kosovo and Serbia was closed.

The area has been the scene of unrest since April, when local ethnic Serbs boycotted elections in northern Kosovo, followed by protests against the election of ethnic Albanian mayors.

Albanians are by far the largest ethnic group in Kosovo, followed by Serbs, with about half living in the north.

Amid the unrest concerning the elections, NATO peacekeepers were deployed, including a group of additional Turkish reinforcements.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and gained recognition from many countries, including Türkiye. But Serbia has never recognized Kosovo and claims it is still part of Serbia.​​​​​​​

Source : AA

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