June 07, 2020 18:24 GMT


BELGRADE — Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has expressed cautious optimism that talks with Kosovo brokered by the European Union could resume, one day after Kosovo’s new government lifted all trade barriers that had been imposed on Serbia.

In an interview on June 7 with RFE/RL’s Balkan Service, Vucic said Kosovo’s move “opens the possibility for us to start talking.”

“It will create a kind of framework so that our business communities can cooperate incomparably better,” he said. “Of course, this will open the possibility for political dialogue between us.”

Kosovo was formerly a Serbian province that unilaterally declared independence in 2008. Belgrade has not recognized that move. In 2011, Belgrade and Pristina agreed to EU-brokered talks aimed at normalizing relations.

Kosovo first imposed trade sanctions on Serbia in November 2018 in retaliation for Belgrade’s diplomatic efforts to persuade countries to rescind their recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

“We expect Serbia to end the de-recognition campaign against Kosovo,” Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti said on June 6, adding that Kosovo expected the EU and the United States to pressure Belgrade on the issue.

Serbia had previously said it would not negotiate with Kosovo as long as the trade sanctions were in place.

Vucic confirmed that EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak was expected to visit Belgrade and Pristina soon after Serbia’s June 21 parliamentary elections.

Vucic, however, said he did not expect the talks to result in Serbian recognition of Kosovo.

“We talk to everyone,” he said. “My question is…What is the content of the dialogue. What are we talking about?.… Because if it is just, ‘Come on, Serbs, recognize the independence of Kosovo and let’s finish that story,’ it certainly will not go that way.”

Both Kosovo and Serbia are pursuing a policy of European integration and aspire to membership in the European Union.