Germany and France call for resumption of Kosovo-Serbia talks

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (left) and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas
 The foreign ministers of Germany and France on Saturday called for an immediate resumption of talks between Kosovo and Serbia under the leadership of the European Union but warned that there could be no shortcut to a swift agreement between the parties.

In a joint statement, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the unresolved situation between the two countries remains a destabilizing factor for the Balkans and European security.

The article states that "the purpose of the talks is a lasting, comprehensive, legally binding agreement between Belgrade and Pristina that resolves all outstanding issues and helps regional stability."

The two foreign ministers say they are aware of the many open issues that need to be resolved before an agreement can be reached, but stressed that there is no shortcut or quick fix.

They said they welcome co-operation between Kosovo and Serbia during the coronavirus period and called for the implementation of agreements reached between the two countries since 2011.



Kosovo's acting prime minister, Albin Kurti, said on Thursday that he was ready to continue talks with Serbia and was awaiting the European Union.

"I am in regular contact with the representative of the European Union, Miroslav Lajcak, of course he is now preparing the beginning of the dialogue, we demand that this dialogue be principled and well prepared and organized. We are ready, we have experience, we will protect the interests of our state and we will represent the Republic of Kosovo as the constitution says, as our laws say, and as the people of Kosovo know us. So, the calendar of the next dialogue depends on Brussels and based on the Constitution of Kosovo and the judgment from last year, Kosovo is represented by its Prime Minister", Mr. Kurti said.

European Union-facilitated talks have been suspended since November 2018, due to tariffs imposed by Kosovo on Serbian goods. These tariffs have already been lifted and replaced by reciprocity measures by the Kosovo government, but it remains unclear when the talks could resume, while Serbia is on the eve of the June 21 general elections, while Kosovo is in a political crisis and governed by an incumbent government.

Next week in Kosovo is seen as crucial to the political situation as the Constitutional Court is expected to announce its decision on the issue of the mandate of forming the government of Kosovo.

The Constitutional Court has decided until May 29 to suspend the implementation of President Hashim Thaçi's decree on the new mandate for the formation of the Government of Kosovo and until that day it is expected to announce its decision on the request of the Vetëvendosje movement for evaluation of the constitutionality of President Thaçi's decree.

During the debates that followed the court's decision to suspend the decree until the final decision, President Hashim Thaçi and the incumbent Prime Minister Albin Kurti exchanged controversy at a distance, although both stressed that the Court should be allowed to work without pressure.

Kosovo has remained with incumbent government in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 25, when a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Albin Kurti's government was voted on.

During the debates over the overthrow of the government, discussions resurfaced about the final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. Incumbent Prime Minister Albin Kurti has cast doubt on whether Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic have reached an agreement on the exchange of territories, and that such a possibility could have been discussed with US officials.

This has been denied on several occasions by Ambassador Richard Grenell, President Donald Trump's special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia peace talks. He stressed that such a thing has never been discussed in his presence.

The President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaçi, denied that such a thing was discussed, but emphasized the necessity of the American presence in the Kosovo-Serbia negotiation process and, as he said, "the increased dynamics of this commitment".

Last year, the United States appointed Mr. Mathew Palmer as its special envoy to the Western Balkans and then Ambassador Richard Grenell, President Donald Trump's special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia peace talks. Earlier this year, Mr Grenell secured an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on airlines, railways and highways, at a time when the second year of European Union-mediated talks had been suspended due to Kosovo's tariffs on Serbian goods.

Feeling left out, the European Union tried to ensure that it would play its part in the process and appointed Miroslav Lajcak, a Slovak diplomat, the special representative for the Kosovo-Serbia-Western Balkans talks, based to the US model.
Germany and France call for resumption of Kosovo-Serbia talks Germany and France call for resumption of Kosovo-Serbia talks Saturday, May 23, 2020 Rating: 5
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