German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday urged Kosovo to fight against crime and corruption and move forwards with reforms during her brief visit in Pristina. “There is a need for free trade, which is not possible at the moment due to the barricades,” Merkel said, referring to the blocks that local Serbs have put up in the last few months to stop traffic in the north.
Pristina, KOSOVO – Monday, December 19, 2011 by Vedat Xhymshiti
Merkel then called for “a fight against organized crime, corruption and engagement in the dialogue process.” After meeting with Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, she said that the leaders in Serbia were demanded to fulfill agreements with Pristina reached in EU-facilitated dialogue in Brussels, but Kosovo also has its own responsibilities in this process.
“Solutions must be found for normalizing relations. I asked from Kosovo side to contribute on this issue,” said Merkel.
Kosovo declared independence in 2008 but Belgrade still considers the territory to be a Serbian province.
Although the EU has not recognized Kosovo’s independence, leading European states, including Germany, have exchanged ambassadors with Pristina. During her short stay in Kosovo, Merkel also visited German troops serving in NATO-led peacekeeping mission (KFOR) in Kosovo, of which Germany accounting for the biggest military contingent with some 1,800 soldiers.
Serbia failed to get a much hoped-for official EU candidate status at the European Council December 9, ostensibly because of German opposition motivated by Serbia’s Kosovo policy.
Thirty German and Austrian soldiers were injured earlier this month when hundreds of Serbs resisted an attempt by NATO to remove roadblocks they had put up in the north.
Kosovo is 90 percent ethnic Albanian and declared independence from Belgrade in 2008. Serbia refuses to recognize it and Kosovo’s ethnic Serbs, who dominate in a small slice of the north, continue to function as part of Serbia.
Troubles started in July when Kosovo sent special police units to the northern border to enforce a trade ban with Serbia but were turned back by armed Serbs. Then NATO troops, mainly German soldiers, intervened to try to calm the situation.
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