Serbia PM banned from entering Kosovo over ‘racist’ comments

Kosovo’s foreign minister Behgjet Pacolli has announced that Serbian prime minister Ana Brnabić will be banned from entering the country over remarks the Kosovan government interpreted as “racist”.

The Kosovan FM was referring to a statement made by Ms Brnabic on May 29 when she described Kosovo’s political leaders as people who “literally came out of the woods.”

In fact, the Serbian PM said the following when speaking about bilateral relations, referring to Kosovan leaders: “My fear is that we have to deal with the worst type of populists, with people who literally came out of the woods.”

“So long as I am FM of Kosovo, I will not allow the Serbian PM Brnabic to enter Kosovo while she maintains a racist and sick ideology against the people of Kosovo,” Mr Pacolli wrote on Twitter, adding that the ban will last “as long as [Ms Brnabić] follows the racist and sick ideology against the Kosovo population and the nationalities living there.”

Speaking to the press on May 30, Ms Brnabić did not apoligose for or clarify her comments. Instead, she condemned the Kosovan government’s move to place a 100 per cent tariff on all Serbian goods imported to Kosovo. “People who are willing to stop the flow of goods are ready to stop the freedom of movement,” she added.

“The racist language used by the prime minister of Serbia, a country which committed genocide and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, is further evidence of the pathological hatred of the current Serbian regime towards the citizens of Kosovo,” said Kosovan president Hachim Thaçi, who also criticised the EU for not condemning the remarks.

Reacting to Mr Thaçi, EU officials told RFE/RL that “any rhetoric which is insulting, confrontational, divisive goes against (…) reconciliation [and] the region needs to move forward.” NATO and UN missions in Kosovo also called on the two sides to ease tensions.