Hovenier: US fully trusts EU as facilitator of Kosovo-Serbia dialogue
Baku, September 21, AZERTAC
The United States has expressed strong confidence in the European Union’s role as a mediator in the ongoing dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, Euronews Albania reported.
Ambassador Jeffrey Hovenier, the U.S. envoy in Pristina, conveyed this message during a speech at the second Peace and Democracy Summit held in the capital of Kosovo.
In his address, Hovenier emphasized, “The USA has full trust in the EU’s mediation efforts. We place our complete faith in the EU’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, and the Special Representative for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajčák, as objective implementers of this policy”.
Hovenier’s remarks come in the wake of Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti accusing Lajčák of displaying bias in his role as a mediator.
Kurti alleged that during the most recent round of dialogue, held in Brussels on September 14, there seemed to be a coordinated effort between Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Lajčák to devise an “alternative scenario” where only certain parts of the agreement would be implemented.
Kurti further claimed that during the meeting, he presented a plan for implementing the Agreement on normalization, which he asserted was rejected by both the EU and Serbia. He also contended that Lajčák took a position against Kosovo.
Hovenier stressed the importance of all parties involved accepting the current process and working towards the goal of normalizing relations. He underlined, “Keeping this vision in mind, working towards the full implementation of the Ohrid Agreement and its Annex, by both parties, as we expect, is the way forward. This brings Kosovo closer to our vision of full integration into Euro-Atlantic structures”.
On September 19, the European Union refrained from commenting on Kurti’s allegations, characterizing them as “baseless accusations”. Peter Stano, the EU spokesperson, reiterated that Lajčák and Borrell, the EU’s mediators for the dialogue, have the support of EU member states.
The September 14 meeting between Kurti and Vučić ended without yielding any tangible results. It marked the first meeting between the dialogue facilitators since tensions flared up in northern Kosovo at the end of May.
Following the Brussels meeting, the European Union stated that Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti appeared reluctant to move forward, in contrast to Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who “accepted their proposal” for the implementation of the Basic Agreement for the normalization of Kosovo-Serbia relations.
EU’s chief of foreign policy Josep Borrell stated that Kurti insisted on the formal recognition of Kosovo by Serbia as a precondition. In Brussels, Kurti argued that Serbia’s insistence on the formation of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority had become the EU emissaries’ stance.
According to Vučić, Kurti was merely avoiding the formation of the Association, which he considered to be the core issue.
Kosovo and Serbia had reached an Agreement on normalization earlier in the year, accompanied by an annex for its implementation. The EU has called for the agreement to be implemented based on a plan they have proposed.
The Agreement on the normalization of relations, consisting of 11 articles, includes provisions for self-governance for the Serbian community in Kosovo, mutual recognition of state symbols, and the implementation of all previous agreements from the dialogue process.
Concerning the formation of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority, an agreement had been reached as early as 2013. However, Kosovo has refrained from implementing this agreement, citing concerns about its potential impact on the functionality of the state.