(Washington) Washington on Saturday called on Serbia to “immediately” and “unconditionally” release three Kosovo police officers whose arrest exacerbated tensions between Belgrade and Pristina.
“We call on President (Alexander) Vucic and the Serbian government to immediately and unconditionally release three Kosovo police officers detained since June 14,” said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.
“Their arrest and detention on false grounds has exacerbated the already tense situation,” he continued, calling on Serbia and Kosovo to resume talks under the auspices of the European Union.
Serbia announced on Wednesday that it had arrested three Kosovo police officers in uniform and armed with automatic weapons, GPS, maps and other equipment.
Kosovo authorities described the incident as a hijacking and prevented Serb vehicles from crossing the border.
This new bout of fever comes after weeks of tension during which thirty soldiers from the NATO-led force in Kosovo (KFOR) were wounded in May during clashes with Serb demonstrators.
Serbia, backed by its Russian and Chinese allies, never recognized the independence its former province declared in 2008, after a decade of bloody war between Serbian forces and separatist Albanian rebels.
Kosovo has a population of 1.8 million, the vast majority of whom are Albanians. The Serb minority remains largely loyal to Belgrade and refuses to recognize Pristina’s sovereignty. Some accuse the Kosovo Serbs of being exploited by Serbia.
The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, invited the Serbian president and the prime minister of Kosovo next week to Brussels to try to ease tensions.