Serbian Foreign Minister signals deadlock in Kosovo talks
Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on January 30 that there had been no dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina since Albin Kurti became Prime Minister of Kosovo and predicted that none were probably in progress.
Kurti has held two meetings with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic since returning to power in March with calls for “reciprocity” amid Serbia’s continued refusal to recognize the independence of his former province.
Selakovic told Serbian state broadcaster RTS that talks next week with US State Department special envoy Gabriel Escobar and EU special representative Miroslav Lajcak will focus on stalled dialogue to normalize relations. between Belgrade and Pristina and everything that overwhelms them.
“Our position and what does not change is that we are always ready to sit down at the negotiating table and talk,” Selakovic said. “It is obvious to us that since Kurti is in Pristina…there has been no dialogue and there probably won’t be…as long as he makes the decisions.”
Kurti, a wartime student leader and Kosovo Albanian nationalist whose Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party came to power after the 2019 elections, has used import duties and border controls to back his calls for change politics in Belgrade.
Selakovic said Belgrade weighs its decisions and is committed to dialogue and to preserving peace, stability and its interests in Kosovo, which has a large minority of Serbs.
Both sides reported after previous Kurti-Vucic meetings that the sides were far apart in their positions.
The European Union stressed that it was ready to organize a new meeting once the Serbian and Kosovar sides had shown their will to obtain concrete results for their 7 million and 1.9 million citizens, respectively.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and Belgrade has spent years encouraging the more than 110 countries that have accepted Kosovo statehood to withdraw their recognition.
EU leaders recently reaffirmed the bloc’s commitment to the stalled enlargement process for Serbia, Kosovo and four other Western Balkan states, but avoided any timetable.
Escobar, the deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing US policy in the Western Balkans, pledged to redouble efforts to help those countries achieve EU integration.