Serbia’s president has said Belgrade could face international isolation if it rejects Western plans to normalize relations with Pristina.
Serbia has received an ultimatum from powerful Western powers to normalize relations with Kosovo or face measures that would cause “great damage” to the country, the president said.
On Monday night, President Aleksandar Vucic said he had received a proposal as part of the West’s solution to long-simmering tensions with Kosovo during a meeting last week with representatives of the European Union, France, Germany, Italy and Italy. part of the effort. United States.
“[They] Say – you have to accept the plan, otherwise you will face interruption of the European integration process, cessation and withdrawal of investments and a combination of economic and political measures that will cause great damage to the Republic of Serbia,” Vucic said.
Vucic told a televised news conference that Serbia’s parliament would have to discuss the proposal and hinted at a possible referendum. He stressed that without the EU, Serbia would become “isolated”.
The West’s new plan to normalize Serbia-Kosovo relations has yet to be officially announced. Vucic said in a televised speech that the plan stipulates that Serbia does not object to Kosovo’s membership in international organizations, including the United Nations.
The United States and the European Union want to press ahead with EU-mediated talks that have stalled for months amid concerns that Serbia’s ally, Russia, could try to provoke instability in the Balkans to divert attention from the war in Ukraine.
“These talks were one of the most difficult in the past decade,” Vucic added, describing the meeting. “Never before.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday that the meeting between Kosovo and Serbia was focused on “discussing the proposal to normalize relations. We stress that advancing this proposal would bring considerable benefits to both parties”.
Serbia has been a candidate for EU membership for more than a decade, and normalizing relations with Kosovo has been a key condition in advancing its application.
“Serbia must continue on its EU path… because without it we will lose our way economically and politically. If we are going to be alone, that’s not something I would accept as president,” Vucic said.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, after a bloody war between an ethnic Albanian armed uprising and the Serbian army in the late 1990s ended in NATO intervention that forced Serbia to withdraw from the territory.
Belgrade and its main allies Russia and China have refused to recognize the move, effectively stripping Pristina of its seat at the United Nations.
Vucic previously said Serbia would never recognize the independence of Kosovo, which many Serbs consider to be the country’s historical heartland, and the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo remains a source of instability in the Balkans.
Western officials stepped in to resolve tensions in northern Kosovo last month, with Serbs setting up barricades on major roads to protest the arrest of a former Serb police officer. In the latest incident, Serb officials said Kosovo police wounded a Serb man in a predominantly Serb part of the country’s north on Monday.
Serbia has often deviated from Brussels’ foreign policy line, most recently when Belgrade refused to sanction Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine. However, it condemned Moscow’s aggression against the United Nations.
Vucic said he believed the pressure to resolve the Kosovo issue was the result of “changing geopolitical circumstances.”
“them [the West] have their own agenda, which is the failure of Russia, and everything that stands in the way of that agenda will be crushed,” Vucic said.
“No matter what they say, Europe is actually at war,” Vucic said. “them [EU] Want everything in their backyard — and the Balkans are their backyard — to be the way they want it to be. “