Kosovo's new government eases trade restrictions with rival Serbia

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By Daniel Bellamy  with AP
Kosovo's new government eases trade restrictions with rival Serbia
Copyright  Visar Kryeziu/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Just days after coming to power Kosovo's new prime minister Avdullah Hoti has lifted some of the restrictions on Serb goods entering the country.

They'd been imposed just days before the previous premier, Albin Kurti, had left office.

It's an effort by Hoti to resume dialogue with Kosovo's neighbour and regional rival Serbia.

"Now we wait to see the same thing from the Serb side to lift all the obstacles and give breathing to the dialogue process," he said.

Hoti added that if Serbia continues to refuse to recognise Kosovo's independence the restrictions could be reimposed.

Serbian authorities will no longer have to apply the same documentation standards on goods exported to Kosovo as they require for Kosovar goods entering Serbia.

In Belgrade Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the lifting of the trade barriers paved the way for progress in diplomatic relations.

"I believe also that there can be good business relations between Albanians and Serbians," he said, referring to the Albanians who are in the majority in Kosovo.

But resuming the European Union-facilitated dialogue over ties between the two remains a big challenge.

Kosovo was part of Serbia until there was an armed uprising by the ethnic Albanian population in 1988.

The Serbs launched a brutal crackdown which triggered a NATO bombing campaign.

It forced Serbia’s troops out of Kosovo and ended the war. Then in 2008 Kosovo declared independence which Serbia refuses to recognise.