US agency halts Kosovo aid over Serbia dispute
The Millennium Challenge Corporation said it was “pausing” its programme to provide electricity and encourage the rule of law and governmental transparency.
“Until Kosovo’s tariff issue is resolved, MCC will pause implementation of the threshold programme and development of the proposed compact programme in Kosovo,” said the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
“Once a resolution [on tariffs] is reached, MCC will resume operations.”
Kosovo imposed a 100-per-cent tariff on Serbian imports in November 2018 after Serbia blocked the breakaway former province’s membership of international organisations, like Interpol and Unesco, the United Nations cultural agency.
It was also in response to a Serb diplomatic campaign to persuade the over 110 countries that recognised Kosovo since it declared independence from Serbia to reverse the recognition.
The US is Kosovo’s main backer, supporting its 2008 declaration of independence.
Washington has said tariffs are a major obstacle to a resumption of talks on normalised bilateral relations and source of regional insecurity.
The US is looking to restore cross-border transport links.
The newly appointed Kosovo government last month announced it would partially lift the tariff on a temporary basis.
The new prime minister in Pristina, Albin Kurti, has said he seeks “reciprocity” in relations with Belgrade.
Kurti said his left-wing Self-Determination Movement (Vetevendosje) wanted to remove the tariffs in phases, starting from today (Sunday) with Serb raw materials.
The second-largest governing partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), however, wanted the duties scrapped completely.
Kurti said he wanted to ensure Serbia stopped its international campaign against Kosovo’s recognition as a country by states around the world.
The coalition partners had not agreed to a compromise, Kurti said.
“In the absence of a government decision, everything remains as it is, the 100 per cent tax remains,” the new prime minister said.
The United States and European Union have also called Kosovo to abandon the tariffs and to resume talks with Serbia on normalising relations.
Issues surrounding Kosovo’s membership of international organisations have fallen into the wider Russian conflict with the west. Picture credit: Wikimedia