The Presidents of Serbia and Kosovo clashed over the stalled Belgrade-Pristina dialogue at a GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava on Friday.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told a panel debate that Belgrade is prepared to continue the dialogue as soon as Pristina revokes the 100 percent tariffs it imposed on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. His Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci replied saying that the dialogue cannot continue if conditions are being set which, according to him, is what Serbia is doing.
Vucic said that revenue, some of which belongs to Serb citizens, was being lost because of the tariffs that Thaci said were imposed to counter Serbia‘s aggressive behaviour, citing the blocking of Kosovo‘s membership bid in Interpol.
Thaci expressed the hope that the coming summit in Paris would bring positive developments, adding that a final solution can be reached by the end of the year. The Kosovo president said that he highly appreciates Vucic’s role in encouraging the Serbs to turn out to vote.
“Kosovo has to implement the agreement on the Community of Serb Municipalities in accord with constitution and laws but unfortunately, the Serb List has prevented Kosovo politicians from taking part in the drafting of the Community’s statute,” he said.
Responding to Thaci’s comments on the Brussels Agreement, Vucic said that Serbia had met all its obligations under the agreement while Pristina had failed to do the one thing it had agreed to – the forming of the Community of Serb Municipalities.
“I am prepared to continue the dialogue with Thaci, with whoever he wants. No one here, not even Hashim can say that we failed to meet some obligation,” he said.
Montenegrin president says Kosovo issue European security problem
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said on Friday that the problem between Belgrade and Pristina is greater than the interests of Serbia and Kosovo, warning that it is a security problem for Europe.
He added that the decision by Presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci to start a dialogue is historically important. “I can confirm that as a well-intentioned neighbor,” he told a panel discussion on the Western Balkans at the GLOBSEC conference in Bratislava.
Djukanovic said that the “history of Serb-Albanian relations and relations between Serbia and Kosovo” are a burden to both Serbia and Kosovo and the entire region.
He recalled that both Vucic and Thaci have said that the issue cannot be resolved unilaterally which, Djukanovic said, means it is bilateral and has to resolved with a compromise, considering the interests of both sides.
“It’s very important to realize that we have to try to solve this issue in this time and with starting points which respect the reality of what has happened in the meantime,” the Montenegrin president said.
He voiced hope that Vucic and Thaci would continue the dialogue and added that Europe has to see its responsibility for what he said is a European security problem.
RCC SecGen says EU not complete without Western Balkans
Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretary General Majlinda Bregu said on Friday that the European Union will not be complete without the Western Balkans and it should take a much stronger approach to the region.
Speaking at the GLOBSEC, she said the EU must be ready to set the region as its geopolitical priority and define the political conflict in the Western Balkans as a battle for and against Europe and that approach will help maintain stability and influence in a neighbouring region burdened by problems.
She warned that the Western Balkans must remain firmly on the road to democracy, freedom, individual rights and sustainable development. There is no reason to limit or stop the integration process if the Western Balkan economies remain committed to the future, she said.
According to Bregu, the long wait at the doors to Europe has greatly affected the region with the UN warning that the region could loose 14 percent of its population, mainly young educated people by the year 2050.