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Kosovo lifts 100% tariff on Serb, Bosnian goods

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Kosovo has lifted a 100% tariff on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, opening the way to resuming talks on normalizing ties with Serbia, the government said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that starting April 1 there would be no 100% tariff on Serb goods. He said that in a reciprocity gesture, all Serb goods entering Kosovo should have documentation certifying their quality, just as Kosovar goods going to Serbia currently have such documentation.

Serbia should lift barriers such as not letting in vehicles with Kosovar number plates and foreign people coming from Kosovo, Kurti said. “We want equality because we feel discriminated against” Kurti said.

Kosovo will monitor the new measures until June 15 and if no reciprocity is applied, the tariffs will be restored, according to the government. Earlier Kurti had wanted the abolition of tariffs made conditional on Serbia stopping an international campaign against Kosovo's recognition as a country, something which he did not mention on Tuesday.

The 100% tariff on Bosnian goods was lifted unconditionally, but Kurti called on the Bosnian leadership to lift the visa regime for Kosovar citizens. In mid-March, Kosovo partially lifted the tariff for raw materials imported from Serbia.

Josep Borrell, the European Union's foreign policy chief, hailed Kosovo's move as “an important decision.” Kosovo imposed the punitive tariffs in November 2018 over Serbian efforts to block Kosovo from joining international organizations. The dispute led to the suspension of EU-mediated talks, which started in 2011.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has described Kurti’s proposed phase-out as a trick. Kosovo was formerly a part of Serbia and won independence after a 1999 NATO bombing campaign that ended a bloody Serb crackdown on an armed uprising by members of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority. Serbia refuses to accept Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence.

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