US Secretary of State Blinken urges ‘immediate de-escalation’ by Serbia, Kosovo

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Kosovan and Serbian leaders Thursday to ease tensions, warning they were putting aspirations of European integration at risk.

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“We call on the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions,” Blinken told reporters at NATO talks in Oslo.

“We support the process of Euro-Atlantic integration for Kosovo and Serbia. But the current escalation hinders rather than helps the efforts to move in that direction,” he said.

The United States earlier criticized Kosovo, long supported by Washington, after Prime Minister Albin Kurti moved ahead on installing ethnically Albanian mayors following a boycott of local elections by Serb voters in northern areas where they are the majority.

“We’ve been very clear in our concerns about some of the recent actions that were taken. We’ve said that directly to the leaders involved including Prime Minister Kurti,” Blinken said.

Blinken warned against “unilateral actions” by either side, after Serbia also put its military on alert.

He said that a European future would meet “the aspirations of people in both countries.”

“If either country is taking steps that actually make that a more distant prospect, that’s actually not going to serve the interests of their people,” he said.

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