Tensions must subside in Kosovo, say London, Berlin

7th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain and Germany are warning Serbia and Kosovo that they are hurting their chances of joining the European Union if they allow ethnic tensions along their border to continue.

In a joint statement due to be published Monday in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and his British counterpart William Hague urged Belgrade and Pristina to end their border crisis.

Serbia and Kosovo must find a diplomatic solution "that recognises Kosovo's borders, improves life for everyone and puts the two states on the road to EU membership," the two ministers said.

"If they don't, they'll miss out on a historic opportunity", they added.

Kosovo, populated mainly by ethnic Albanians, unilaterally proclaimed its independence in 2008 with Western backing but Serbia never recognised it.

Ongoing tensions between the two escalated in July in a small Serb-dominated region in the north of Kosovo when the Kosovo government ordered its security forces to take control of border crossings to enforce a ban in imports from Serbia.

Four were injured and an ethnic Albanian police officer killed in ensuing clashes, which NATO troops had to defuse.

Both Serbia and Kosovo are keen to join the EU.

© 2011 AFP

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