Bosnian top officials condemned on Wednesday Kosovo ’s decision to increase by ten percent taxes on products from Serbia and Bosnia, the two countries in the region that have not recognised its independence.
Belgrade responded by suspending any dialogue with Pristina, while the European Union asked Kosovo authorities to clarify the “unexpected decision.”
Kosovo’s decision “completely contradicts the principles of free trade in the region, as well as general principles of improving regional relations,” Bosnia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Igor Crnadak, said on Wednesday.
He said Bosnia will respond in accordance with the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and that he will ask for the decision to be included in the agenda at a summit of six Western Balkan foreign affairs ministers end of November in Montenegro.
Crnadak said he expects the decision to be regionally condemned, as it represents an obstruction of economic development and relations in the region.
The Foreign Minister noted that Kosovo’s decision is not regional, but that it only targets countries which have not recognised Kosovo as an independent state. This, he said, was “an additional political dimension” of the move.
“I hope that the decision of the Pristina Government will incite a fitting reaction from the European Union, so that this issue could be resolved as soon as possible,” Crnadak said.
Bosnia’s Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Minister, Mirko Sarovic, said that with this decision Kosovo has isolated itself from the region.
Deputy head of the Foreign Trade Chamber, Ahmet Egrlic, said he was concerned with the consequences of the move.
Having failed to find a way to ease the flow of goods and people with Kosovo, Bosnia has lost a significant part of that market and the additional taxes are making things even worse, he said.
Bosnia should have found a way to approve ‘green cards’ for Kosovo citizens and ease the visa process for business people from Kosovo like Serbia did, he said.