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Abolishing taxes and establishing reciprocity measures: What would this move by Pristina mean?

The talk about abolishing the taxes has never been more serious than now, when a new government in Pristina has been elected

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Over the weekend the new Prime Minister of the provisional institutions in Pristina Albin Kurti announced that he would start preparing the customs for the abolition of taxes very soon, and that the measure would be accompanied by establishment of reciprocity. The abolition of taxes was asked for by US envoy for dialogue Richard Grenell.

The 100 percent taxes on goods from central Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been in force since November 2018 and with it companies from central Serbia ceased to be the number one in the placement of goods on the Kosovo market. The loss of this position over the past 14 months has meant lesser placement of goods on the local market worth over EUR 500 million.

The talk about abolishing the taxes has never been more serious than now, when a new government in Pristina has been elected. But the announcement is that the abolition of the taxes will be accompanied by reciprocity.

Albin Kurti says that as soon as they consider all the elements of reciprocity, they will establish it and then abolish the taxes.

He recalled a resolution of the so-called Kosovo parliament from December 2011, where the main point is full reciprocity in terms of market, economic and political relations with Belgrade.

Kurti says that they believe "it is not right that when goods from Kosovo to go to central Serbia, no documents are recognized on it because Kosovo is treated as a state."

Kurti adds that he doesn't mind that Albanians from Presevo, Medvedja or Bujanovac come to Pristina and go to university there, but that they cannot find jobs in their hometowns with that diploma.

Former Minister of Trade in the Pristina government Mimoza Kusari said that for the new government, reciprocity means broader measures relating economic, political and freedom of movement of people, education and all areas of life in which she says "Serbia violates the rights of Kosovo and its inhabitants."

Analytical circles in Pristina question whether the announcement of reciprocity meets Western countries' expectations for the abolition of the taxes.

Aljbin Kurti

Photo: Tanjug/AP

Analysts say the response of America, the EU institutions and European countries will depend on the nature, scope and consequences of reciprocity policies in the continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

"If reciprocity measures are seen as an obstacle to the continuation of the dialogue or its progress, they will be opposed by America, the EU institutions and European countries," they assess in Pristina.

Establishing reciprocity in principle means redefining relationships in areas such as movement of people, transport, education, health and membership in regional and international organizations.

They added in Pristina that the abolition of the taxes would be met with strong opposition from the opposition, which was in power when when the taxes were imposed. Announcements of street protests are now coming from opposition circles, like those that had been organized by Albin Kurti for years when he opposed the decisions he claimed would favor Belgrade and harm the Albanians in Kosovo.

Albin Kurti also received an invitation from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, so things would be much clearer after that conversation.


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