"Kosovo remains the main hotbed of instability [in the Balkans]. Pristina not only openly sabotages the implementation of the agreements reached through the European Union's mediation in dialogue with Belgrade but also takes new provocative steps… The reputation of the European Union, its ability to force Kosovars to fulfil their obligations, are being questioned," Lavrov said.
The foreign minister also recalled that the self-proclaimed republic had introduced in late November 100 percent tariffs on goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which constituted a violation of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA).
According to Lavrov, these measures are aimed at making it impossible for Kosovo Serbs to live in the self-proclaimed republic.
The foreign minister believes that the situation in the Balkans, in general, was worrying because NATO and the European Union had been boosting their efforts aimed at spreading the blocs' influence in the region and pressurising the Balkan countries into choosing between Moscow on the one side, and Brussels and Washington on the other.
"Such actions lead to further destabilisation of the security architecture in Europe, escalate tensions," the top diplomat warned.
The move was criticised not only by Belgrade but by NATO as well, with the alliance's secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, saying that such actions were "ill-timed."
Kosovo proclaimed its independence from Serbia in 2008 and was recognised by over a hundred UN member states. The move was not, however, recognised by a number of other countries, including Serbia itself and two permanent members of the UN Security Council — Russia and China. In 2011, Brussels launched several rounds of talks between Belgrade and Kosovo, bringing the parties to the negotiation table for the first time since Kosovo's secession. The 2013 agreement came as a result of the EU-mediated consultations.