1 of 3 | The United States and European Union on Wednesday urged restraint from Serbia and Kosovo a day after Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic put military forces on high alert. Photo by Andrej Cukic/EPA-EFE
Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The European and U.S. governments on Wednesday said they were concerned about escalating tensions between Serbia and Kosovo and called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint.
One day after the Serbian president put his forces on high alert, the two Western governments expressed concern over tensions in the region.
"We call on everyone to exercise maximum restraint, to take immediate action to unconditionally de-escalate the situation, and to refrain from provocations, threats, or intimidation," they said.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic put military forces on high alert on Tuesday amid increasing tensions with Kosovo, which is not recognized as an independent country by Belgrade.
Belgrade said that ethnic Serbs had come under attack during recent tensions with Kosovo. Both countries have been at loggerheads since the Soviet Union dissolved in the 1990s, though renewed and heightened tensions are a cause for regional concern given the geopolitical implications of Russia's war on Ukraine, a former Soviet republic.
The NATO-led peacekeeping Kosovo Force reported it was the target of gunfire in northern Kosovo during the weekend. NATO has some 3,700 peacekeeping troops in Kosovo.
The EU and U.S. governments added they were working with President Vucic and his prime minister, Albin Kurti, to find a political solution to the crisis.
"We welcome the assurances of the leadership of Kosovo confirming that no lists of Kosovo Serb citizens to be arrested or prosecuted for peaceful protests/barricades exist," their joint statement read. "At the same time, rule of law must be respected, and any form of violence is unacceptable and will not be tolerated."
Tens of thousands of people were killed in the 10-year Kosovo War, which ended in the late 1990s. Former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was put on trial at a U.N. tribunal for crimes against humanity in Kosovo.