Endrit Shala, Kosovo’s Trade Minister, said late on Thursday he had suspended a Central European Free Trade (CEFTA) meeting because a representative from Serbia addressed Kosovo as Kosovo and Metohija, Belgrade’s official name for its former province, despite being warned on several occasions not to do that, the Beta news agency reported.
Shala told Pristina’s T17 television that the 100 percent import tariffs Kosovo had introduced on goods from Serbia and Bosnia would remain in place as long as he was the minister.
CEFTA meeting lasted only 15 minutes and was off immediately after Serbia’s representative, though being cautioned in advance, used Belgrade’s official name for Kosovo.
Serbia’s Government said the representatives from Kosovo and Albania left the CEFTA Joint Committee meeting after Belgrade representative’s speech.
Pristina imposed the customs duties earlier in November, in a move many said was violating the CEFTA agreement, as well as Kosovo’s Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the European Union.
Both the US and the EU, as well as other CEFTA member states, called on Kosovo to revoke the tariffs, but Pristina said Belgrade would first have to recognise Kosovo’s independence.
In a protest, Belgrade said it would first address the CEFTA Committee meeting before starting other procedures.