Thursday, June 17

Leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to meet for reconciliation talks, says Miroslav Lajčák

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo will meet imminently to restart the EU-mediated dialogue that would normalize relations and put both nations on the path to joining the European Union, EU envoy Miroslav Lajčák told Euronews.

Lajčák, a former Slovak foreign minister, said a date had been set for a meeting between Kosovo’s new prime minister, Albin Kurti, and Serbian President Aleksander Vucic. He added that the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, will announce it shortly.

Lajčák emphasized after a visit to Pristina and before a visit to Belgrade that the EU-sponsored dialogue is the only way for both nations to join the European Union. The talks started a decade ago, but have stalled in recent years.

“There is no way to avoid dialogue for both Serbia and Kosovo,” said Lajčák, the EU’s special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. “His European path goes through dialogue. That’s what matters. Mr. Kurti knows it, Mr. Vucic knows it. “

He was optimistic that a change of government in Pristina has increased the chances that talks between the two neighbors will be successful.

“We have a new government, a new prime minister with a very strong political mandate. […] this is a good precondition for a serious process. It is good that we have a day, it is good that we have an agreement that will be fulfilled ”.

Kurti, who was elected in a landslide victory in February, has repeatedly said that he wanted a full apology from Serbia for his actions during the 1998-99 conflict, which resulted in the displacement of up to one million Kosovars and at least 20,000 deaths.

It only ended with a NATO bombing campaign that forced Serbia to withdraw from Kosovo.

He told Euronews in an interview after his electoral victory that, in addition to a full recognition of Kosovo, it declared its independence in 2008 in a move not yet recognized by Belgrade and its allies, Russia and China, as well as by three nations of the EU. he wanted war reparations from Serbia.

Kurti also qualified Serbia’s actions in the Kosovo genocide and has since said that he will file a lawsuit against Belgrade for its actions during the war.

But when asked about Kurti’s recent actions and comments, Lajčák hinted that what the Kosovar leader says behind closed doors was more important.

“What really matters is what is being said in the meeting, what the two parties sit together and discuss. Obviously, they make a lot of public statements. […] but what really matters is what is said in the meetings ”.

On the genocide issue, Lajčák said: “Look, you haven’t been officially represented. Obviously, there have been statements to the public, to the media, but what matters is the official position that will be presented at the meeting.

“We continue to repeat to our partners that it is also their responsibility to create an atmosphere conducive to a positive dialogue process and to refrain from unilateral actions or statements that tend to aggravate animosity.”

Lajčák was also optimistic about the change of government in the United States after President Joe Biden’s election victory in November, saying that EU negotiators now have “the closest possible working relationship with the United States.”

President Donald Trump and his envoy to the Balkans Richard Grenell negotiated a deal in 2020 that saw Vucic and the then prime minister of Kosovo sign an agreement at the White House, taking European negotiators by surprise. When asked about the agreement, Lajčák said: “They do not represent an agreement. […]. Only dialogue facilitated by the EU has international legitimacy, “he said.

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