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Kosovo has postponed the ban on the Serbian dinar under pressure from Western countries

A man withdraws Serbian dinars from an ATM in Mitrovica, northern Kosovo, on January 31, 2024.

Kosovo, which uses the euro but where about 120,000 Serbs live in the north of the country, has suspended a ban on transactions in the Serbian dinar, under pressure from some Western countries. They see it as an unnecessary provocation towards Moscow’s ally Serbia.

In mid-January, the Central Bank of Pristina announced that from 1er In February, only euros will be allowed for cash and electronic payments in the country. “We will not immediately apply punitive measures” The date, Wednesday 31 January, was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister, Besnik Bislimi. “We will take time to inform Serbian citizens”He added in Pres.

Govt “Commit to a transition period so that citizens can adapt as quickly as possible and with as little inconvenience as possible”, he added. But the euro “Only Official Currency Remains”he insisted.

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Impact on daily life

Many Western governments condemned Pristina’s decision, fearing escalation between Serbia and Kosovo. “We are concerned about the impact of the regulations, particularly on schools and hospitals, for which no alternative process appears viable at this time.”The ambassadors of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and the United States wrote in a joint statement on Saturday.

“The rules will also have a direct impact on the daily lives of the majority of Kosovo Serbs who receive payments. (and one) Financial assistance from Serbia »They added, called for the moratorium to be suspended and confirmed “Long enough transition period” with communication “effective”.

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In the morning, the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, seemed in favor of the postponement: “To achieve full implementation, we also need the support of our partners to ensure stability”she said.

Risk of escalation between Belgrade and Pristina

At the end of the war, in 1999, Kosovo, then a Serbian province, adopted the Deutsche Mark as its currency – the Yugoslav dinar was in the process of disappearing. In 2002, when the euro became legal tender in Germany, Kosovo made it its national currency In fact, however, no formal agreement exists with the European Economic and Monetary Union.

The Serbian dinar, however, is mainly tolerated in Serbian areas. Its ban reignited tensions in these towns and villages where many work or work for Serbian institutions with salaries or pensions in dinars.

Belgrade, which has never recognized Kosovo’s independence, declared in 2008, supports the Serbian community there, providing jobs and financial aid to an estimated 120,000 people. Serbia’s budget provides about 120 million euros per year for Kosovo.

But no one in Pristina gives the impression of wanting to back down. Kosovar authorities introduced the new rule as a way to fight corruption, money laundering and counterfeit currency. The Serbian government sees this as a mere provocation that may derail “Once for all” Negotiations aimed at normalizing relations between Serbia and Kosovo, while the year 2023 is already marked by peaks of tension.

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The world with AFP

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