Europe

EU urgently calls on Serbia, Kosovo leaders to calm tensions

FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2016 file photo, residents walks past a wall built by Serbs earlier in the month near a bridge on Ibar River, calling it a technical support barrier against a landslide in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica. Ethnic Albanians say the wall is to keep them out. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has urgently called the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo following a recent spike in ethnic tensions between the two countries, according to a statement late Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo, File)

FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2016 file photo, residents walks past a wall built by Serbs earlier in the month near a bridge on Ibar River, calling it a technical support barrier against a landslide in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica. Ethnic Albanians say the wall is to keep them out. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has urgently called the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo following a recent spike in ethnic tensions between the two countries, according to a statement late Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

A senior European Union official has urgently called the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo following a recent spike in tensions between the two countries.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini encouraged them to put aside their differences and work harder for normalizing their relations, according to a statement issued late Tuesday.

Tensions starting building in December when the Serb minority erected a wall at a bridge in Mitrovica to keep out ethnic Albanians and others.

The friction increased in early January with the detention of Ramush Haradinaj, a former Kosovo prime minister, and days later when a Serbian train with signs reading "Kosovo is Serbia" was turned back from the border with Kosovo.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but that hasn't been recognized by Belgrade.