The European Union has called on the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to be “more reasonable” and engage in talks “without pre-conditions.”
The crisis meeting, which remains up in the air, is meant to address the latest flare-up of tensions in the region.
The EU and the US fear the growing strain between the two neighbours might spiral out of control and dismantle the progress that was achieved earlier this year in the normalisation of relations.
Josep Borrell, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, has sent an invitation to Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti for face-to-face talks in Brussels, initially expected to take place sometime this week.
The call for dialogue, however, has been ignored so far as neither leader has confirmed their participation.
“The invitation is an opportunity offered to both Prime Minister Kurti and President Vucic to show that they can be constrictive after all and try to find a solution,” Peter Stano, the spokesperson for Borrell, said on Monday afternoon.
“This is not to please Brussels. This is about the future, this is about the European future for the people in Kosovo and Serbia. The lack of engagement will have, inevitably, consequences for the citizens both in Kosovo and in Serbia,” the spokesperson went on.
“This is solely the responsibility of the two leaders: President Vučić and Prime Minister Kurti. It’s no one else’s responsibility.”
Stano spoke of “very unconstructive public remarks” made in recent days, a thinly-veiled reference to the comments voiced by Vučić over the weekend.
Speaking to reporters, the Serbian leader dismissed the potential meeting as “pointless” and “completely meaningless” in the present circumstances.
“I have nowhere to give in any further, I would do it for the millionth time, but I have nowhere, I have nothing more to give in and that’s it,” Vučić said on Sunday.
“Kurti wants war at any cost. It creates an environment of constant provocation and conflict.”
Meanwhile, Kurti said he has not yet decided whether to attend the Brussels meeting and is waiting to receive further information about the state of the three Kosovar police officers who are detained in Serbia.
The arrests, which Pristina has described as an act of kidnapping, are the latest chapter in a series of episodes that have drastically ratcheted up the hostility between Serbia and Kosovo.
The first sign of unrest came in late April when ethnic Serbs boycotted the elections in four municipalities in northern Kosovo, where they are a majority. This led to a reported turnover of less than 3.5% and calls for the ballot to be repeated.
Despite this, the Kosovar authorities allowed the elected mayors, who are ethnic Albanians, to take their seats. The decision prompted outrage from ethnic Serbs and clashes with NATO peacekeepers, which were forcefully condemned by the international community.
Vučić then ordered the deployment of troops to the borders under the highest level of combat readiness. Days later, amid calls for de-escalation, Serbian forces detained three Kosovo police officers, an incident that remains shrouded in uncertainty.
Belgrade claimed the officers had illegally crossed into Serbian territory carrying guns but Pristina said they had been “kidnapped” while traveling “on a road in Kosovo used by Serbian smugglers.”
Kosovo retaliated by banning the entrance of all vehicles with Serbian licence plates, a highly explosive issue that had in the past been the source of border friction.
The turn of events raises serious questions about the viability of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, an EU-brokered deal that was provisionally agreed upon in February with the aim of normalising ties and resolving long-standing issues, such as the licence plates and participation in international organisations.
“High Representative (Josep Borrell) and also the EU member states expect a more reasonable attitude from partners who aspire to join the European Union,” Stano said on Monday, noting a lack of “meaningful” steps to de-escalate.
“They are both invited and we expect them to come without pre-conditions. Finding a solution is, first of all, in the interests of the people in Kosovo and Serbia.”
Source : euronews