Serbia gives ultimatum to Kosovo on dialogue

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – Dialogue with Kosovo will continue when it withdraws its unlawful decisions, Serbia’s president said Thursday.

Aleksandar Vucic's remarks followed his meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini together with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci in Brussels as part of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue process.

"The dialogue will continue when Pristina withdraws its unlawful decisions. We are always ready to talk about the future and compromises. None of our people will appear here in Brussels until Pristina withdraws all illegal acts," Vucic told Radio Television Serbia.

He said the authorities in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, decided to raise tariffs on all Serbian and Bosnian goods by 10 percent and is talking about setting up a military garrison in the north where the Serbs live, but Serbia will not allow it.

Vucic said "difficult days" are ahead of Serbia in the political sense because Pristina violated the CEFTA agreement and introduced additional tariffs on goods from Serbia.

“The Pristina authorities decided to raise tariffs on Serbian goods by 10 percent over the past few days, contrary to the CEFTA agreement, which the EU condemned. But no one is getting too worked up about it."

He added that the Europeans are trying to kick Serbia out of the power grid in northern Kosovo.

"The Europeans are trying to get us out of the energy network for northern Kosovo unlawfully. In the draft, the proposal to resolve the energy dispute was clear, that the Community of Serb Municipalities must be formed and the two mixed companies in the north would be able to transfer power to the Albanian operator. They are now trying to get rid of us, to take away our right to transfer electricity, making us lose a power line to Macedonia, two to Albania and three to Montenegro," Vucic said.

– Dialogue does not go with ultimatums

The possibility of reaching a final, legally binding agreement is currently very low, said Thaci.

He said the topics discussed are not easy to resolve, but it is in the interest of both countries to reach a peace agreement.

"I can repeat that it is not an easy challenge to face. Therefore, I think it is in the interest of the entire Kosovo political scene to be brave, energetic and determined to come here. We will face it and progress," Thaci told reporters after the meeting.

Thaci stressed that it is the right moment to address the major obstacles.

"There is little possibility of an agreement, but we should continue to work toward one," he said.

Answering journalists' questions, Thaci said tonight Serbia's discourse was aggressive and arrogant, while Kosovo's discourse was just about achieving a balanced agreement that would include mutual recognition and membership of Kosovo in the United Nations with the real possibility of replacing Resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council.

Commenting on Vucic's statement that the Serbian side will not negotiate, Thaci said Belgrade does not need to fear dialogue because Kosovo will be responsible in dialogue and in its work.

He also recommended that neither dialogue nor negotiations come with ultimatums or aggressive voices.

"We will be correct and constructive but also determined to reach an agreement on mutual recognition and Kosovo's membership in the UN," Thaci said.

Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Serbia rejected the move and considers Kosovo its own territory, while more than 100 countries worldwide — including Turkey, the U.S., Britain, France and Germany — recognize it as an independent country.

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