After Serbia’s President cancelled his planned meeting with his Kosovo counterpart, the EU is planning a new meeting between the two leaders amid a sudden worsening of relations.

Maja Zivanovic, Dia Morina BIRN Belgrade, Pristina , 07.09.2018.

The EU said it was planning a new joint meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci of Kosovo, after Vucic cancelled his announced meeting with Thaci on Friday in Brussels, leaving his upcoming visit to Kosovo in doubt.

“Difficulties remain,” the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said, after holding separate meetings with Vucic and Thaci on Friday morning.

She added that she trusted the full commitment of both presidents to continue the EU-led dialogue process, and “reach in the coming months a legally binding agreement on comprehensive normalisation of relations, in line with international law”.

Mogherini announced that she will convene the next high-level session of the dialogue before the Ministerial week of the UN General Assembly in the last week of September, “to bring the two sides together to advance the work on the content of the agreement”.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has vowed never to recognise it. However, international pressure is growing on both countries to solve the decade-long dispute, if they are to assure themselves a future as part of the EU.

The Serbian President surprised the public after he cancelled the planned meeting with Thaci, after holding a bilateral meeting with Mogherini.

Although Vucic made no statement, the Head of Serbia’s Office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, said Vucic had informed Mogherini about “all the lies of Pristina in the past days” and added that this “is why he will not meet with the Kosovo delegation today”.

After media reported that Vucic had cancelled the meeting, Thaci said they had both agreed the trilateral meeting would not take place.

“There has been an agreement between me and Vucic to overcome these differences in the days and weeks to come with the understanding of the delegations and with the facilitation of the European Union,” he said.

Thaci noted that the deepening differences between Kosovo and Serbia were influencing both parties towards a stage of reflection before further continuation.

Serbia’s Prime Minister, Ana Brnabic, in a press release, called on the international community to “understand the seriousness of the situation in Kosovo”.

I would like … the international community not to test our patience or our understanding, but to understand the seriousness of the situation and act accordingly,” Brnabic said.

She accused the Kosovo side of being “irresponsible, unpredictable and not respecting agreements reached and signed agreements”.

On April 19, 2013, an extraordinary agreement, which mapped out points of negotiations, was signed in Brussels by Serbian and Kosovo representatives.Since then both sides have accused each other of not respecting it.

The cancellation of the meeting with Thaci has also put Vucic’s announced visit to Kosovo in doubt.He was due in Kosovo this weekend to present Serbia’s “guidelines and directions of state policy towards Kosovo”.

Kosovo Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli confirmed to BIRN that Kosovo would not allow Vucic to visit the disputed Gazivode Lake in Kosovo during his stay.

However, Djuric said that if Vucic went to Kosovo, “he will surely visit Lake Gazivode”.
Serbia’s Defence Minister, Aleksandar Vulin, meanwhile said that “every order by the Serbian President will be executed”.

“If President Vucic decides to visit Kosovo and Metohija, the visit will be safe and according to a plan approved by President Vucic. His security will be provided by the authorities in Kosovo and Metohija or we [the Serbian Army] will do it,” he said in a press release.

But Thaci said that Vucic would have to follow the approved itinerary.
“We are an independent and sovereign country, the allowed itinerary for the visit of the Serbian president to the republic of Kosovo will be respected, nothing more or less. We respect everyone, we do not want to humiliate anyone, but we do not allow the violation of the sovereignty of the republic of Kosovo,” he stated.

Media reports said the Serbian President would make a final decision on his visit to Kosovo on Friday night.