Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo decided on Tuesday to quit all communication with authorities in Pristina in the light of new tariffs, which they see as a “breach of human and economic rights of Serbs”.
In their joint declaration, mayors of North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok and Zvecan stated that the suspension of the local administration comes as a result of the recent decision by Pristina authorities to impose 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia’s public broadcaster RTS reports.
“Administration and municipal services will not function, while local assemblies will not meet. This will remain in force until the complete withdrawal of all discriminatory measures of Pristina,” Dejan Ugresic, speaker of the North Mitrovica Assembly, read the declaration in front of journalists.
Mayor of North Mitrovica Goran Rakic said that the 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods endanger the right to life, medical treatment, public information, and survival as well as the ability of Serbs to keep living at their homes.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia rejects it and considers Kosovo its own province.
Since 2013 Serbia and Pristina authorities have been seeking to normalize their relations under the provisions of the Brussels agreement, in a dialogue mediated by the European Union.
Both Serbia and its province are the signatories of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), but at the beginning of this month local government for the first time introduced 10 percent tariffs for products (excluding international brands) coming from Serbia and BiH – two countries in the region that refuse to recognize self-proclaimed Kosovo.
On Nov. 21, the Prime Minister Ramus Haradinaj of the provincial government revealed that the government decided to increase tariffs to 100 percent.
He explained the measures with the need to “strengthen the domestic production, statehood and economy”. But the Serbian population in North Mitrovica protested against the decision.