Italy PM Conte urges Kosovo to abolish taxes on Serbia goods


BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Italy’s prime minister on Wednesday urged Kosovo to withdraw a 100-percent tariff on goods from Serbia so the former Balkan foes could resume European Union-mediated talks on normalizing relations.

Giuseppe Conte said in Belgrade that Italy hopes a compromise solution would soon be reached between Serbia and its former province that declared independence in 2008.

Conte added that Italy supports Serbia’s efforts to become a member of the EU and is ready to help Serbia join the bloc.

And he said Kosovo should “show necessary responsibility and effort to restore the talks and withdraw the taxes they imposed last November.”

The EU has mediated negotiations aimed at resolving the long-standing Balkan dispute. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, but the two have been told they must improve bilateral relations to join the EU.

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“There will be no EU entry for us until we reach some kind of agreement with (Kosovo) Albanians,” Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said after meeting Conte.

Both Brussels and Washington have criticized the tariffs.

Serbia says it will not take part in the EU-facilitated discussions until the tax is ditched, while Kosovo wants Serbia to recognize its statehood and stops preventing it joining international organizations.

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