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European Parliament Urges Kosovo To Drop 100 Percent Tariff On Serbian Goods

David McAllister, the leader of a European delegation, has urged Kosovo to drop its tariff on Serbian goods.
David McAllister, the leader of a European delegation, has urged Kosovo to drop its tariff on Serbian goods.

The European Parliament has urged Kosovo to withdraw its 100 percent tariff on goods from Serbia to help restart normalization talks between the Western Balkan neighbors.

On March 2, David McAllister, the leader of a European delegation visiting the two countries, said the group had brought up the suspension of the tariff during meetings with Kosovar leaders "as the only way to success."

Kosovo has said the tariff will be lifted only when Serbia recognizes its sovereignty and stops blocking it from joining international organizations.

Belgrade responded by saying the tariff is hurting its businesses and that it will not participate in further dialogue until the measure is lifted.

Kosovo, a former province of Serbia, imposed the import tax in November in retaliation for what it called Belgrade's attempts to undermine its statehood.

Belgrade has never recognized Kosovo’s independence, proclaimed in 2008 after a 1998-99 guerrilla war.

More than 10,000 were killed in the war, which prompted NATO to launch an air campaign in the spring of 1999 to end the conflict.

The United States, a close ally of Kosovo, has also pressed Kosovo to repeal the 100 percent tariff on imported Serbian goods.

During a visit on February 27, John Erath, the director for European affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, and the council’s Balkans director, Brad Berkley, urged Pristina to withdraw the duties, which have also been placed on Bosnian goods.

Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said Pristina requires that any negotiations be based on “principles of mutual recognition” with Belgrade if it is to drop the tariffs.

“It is our desire that a comprehensive and legally binding agreement between the two countries can be concluded in 2019…leading to mutual recognition and Kosovo’s membership of the United Nations,” Haradinaj said in a letter to global prime ministers that he posted on Facebook.

With reporting by AP and BalkanInsight
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