The Kosovo Prime Minister, Albin Kurti announced on Facebook that Kosovo Customs is being prepared to replace the 100% tax on Serbian goods with the reciprocity principle. This shows my willingness to abolish the taxes, said Kurti, adding that he thus expects a counter move or an act of faith from Belgrade – the suspension of Serbia’s campaign to withdraw Kosovo’s recognition.
“The 100% tax on Serbian goods will be replaced by reciprocity. The 100% tax will be removed as soon as reciprocity is in force. We will start preparing Kosovo Customs for this very soon. As the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, I have expressed my willingness to abolish the 100% taxes. I expect Serbia to declare its readiness to stop the campaign concerning the recognition of Kosovo’s independence,“ Kosovo’s new Prime Minister, Albin Kurti announced today on his Facebook page.
Kurti’s post received over 5,000 likes and 400 comments in just 20 minutes. The comments on his announcement are mostly negative, with Serbia being referred to as the one to blame and cast in a negative light in relation to Kosovo, while some accuse Kurti of collaboration and indulgence.
The Kosovo government introduced the taxes on imports of goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 21st, 2018, as a response to Serbia’s „wild campaign“ against Kosovo and Kosovo’s failure to join INTERPOL. Since the taxes were introduced, the Brussels dialogue, which was in a slump even at the time, has been completely suspended, while the Serbian side has repeatedly underlined that the dialogue would not continue until the taxes are abolished.
A number of international representatives urged Kosovo to abolish the taxes. The most recent appeal to abolish the taxes arrived from Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina peace talks, Richard Grenell.
Grenell told Pristina that the abolishment of the taxes is a condition for the continuation of dialogue but also for promoting economic development in Kosovo. On the other hand, the Special Envoy also urged Belgrade to cease its campaign to withdraw the recognition of Kosovo. The Serbian side, however, has been persistently protesting against parallels being drawn between taxes and withdrawal of recognition.
During the election campaign, Kurti himself advocated a policy of reciprocity instead of the taxes. However, it is still unclear what exactly this policy would entail. Conversely, Kurti’s announcement makes no mention of Bosnia and Herzegovina, though Kurti himself has said in numerous interviews that Sarajevo and Belgrade can never be the same for Pristina, and that his government will reconsider the taxes imposed on goods from BiH.
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