PRISTINA/BELGRADE -- The United States and four Western European countries have called on Serbia and Kosovo to restart European Union-sponsored talks aimed at normalizing their relations "with urgency," saying the current status quo is "simply not sustainable."
"After years of stagnation, the time has come to finally end the conflicts of the 1990s and provide a secure and prosperous future for the people of Kosovo and Serbia,” the governments of Britain France, Germany, Italy and the United States said in a statement released on August 13.
That should be achieved by negotiating "in good faith" a "comprehensive, politically sustainable, and legally binding agreement that contributes to regional stability," they said.
A former Serbian province, Pristina declared independence in 2008. Although more than 110 countries recognize Kosovo's statehood, Belgrade does not.
EU-mediated talks between Kosovo and Serbia to settle their differences have stalled.
Tensions have escalated in recent months, as Pristina imposed a 100-percent tariff on all Serbian goods in November in retaliation for what it said were Belgrade's efforts to undermine the young republic on the international stage.
The August 13 statement urged Kosovo to lift the tariffs, but also asked Serbia to suspend its "de-recognition campaign against Kosovo."
"The status quo prevents progress on Kosovo's and Serbia's path towards the European Union (EU) and is simply not sustainable," it said, adding: "We want to see the people of Kosovo and Serbia benefit from a lasting peace and have the opportunity to build their own futures. We stand ready to assist in any way possible."
Both Kosovo and Serbia have been told they must resolve their differences in order to make progress toward potential membership in the 28-member EU.