The EU’s Special Envoy to Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has been accused of being biased in favour of Serbia, according to Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who has sent letters to the leaders of Italy, Germany, France, and the US regarding the situation.
Last Wednesday, Kurti met with Serbian President Aleksander Vucic in Brussels under the EU-backed framework dialogue led by Lajcak and the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell. The meeting resulted in no agreement, with Kurti rejecting an EU proposal and claiming the EU rejected his own plan.
During a press conference on Monday, Kurti reiterated previous statements that Lajcak “had a clear position of the mediator against Kosovo in general, against the agreement towards normalisation of relations in particular.”
He added there appeared to be “coordination” between Vucic and Lajcak to create an “alternative scenario where half of the agreement is implemented.”
Kurti explained that during the meeting, he was asked to ‘leapfrog’ other crucial articles and proceed to the creation of the association of Serb municipalities. He explained that “It became clear that such a step cannot be undertaken without fully agreeing on the sequenced implementation plan,” adding that the first step should include the signing of the basic agreement.
This was not acceptable to Lajcak and Borrell, as their position was “that the sequencing of the implementation of the agreement should be done in such a way that it would be acceptable even for Serbia, which wanted the association as a priority and the removal of the articles of mutual recognition”.
He also said it is untrue he rejected any plans put on the table, referring to it as “nonsense from Lajcak’s office.”
“In the following days, I will certainly have meetings with all the international factors that have accepted the state of Kosovo, and that want to help us and support us in terms of democratic state building, socio-economic development, but also as for international recognition, and in particular the normalisation of relations with Serbia, and now we have the solution: it is the Basic Agreement of de-facto mutual recognition”, Kurti said.
When asked if he would seek to have Lajcak replaced, Kurti said the diplomat is not accountable to him, but he must be accountable to the European Commission, Council and Parliament.
“I believe that what we have said in recent days, and in particular today, is more than enough for him to be held accountable, there in the European institutions”.
Kurti also said he sent letters to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
“Here we are dealing with an emissary who has distorted the process, not focusing on the full implementation of the basic agreement, but allowing the cart to be put before the horse, which the Association sees time and time again. And this deformation of the evidence of implementation is accompanied by a fundamental injustice”, he said of the letter.
Kurti said that he received confirmation from Paris and Berlin that they had received the letter sent on 15 September.
“Every time there is a violation of the agreement, the referee should blow the pip. What is the meaning that we agree on a text and then with statements violate the agreement and the arbitrator does not react”, he said.
The US have not confirmed or denied receiving the letter but praised the work of Lajcak when asked about the accusations.
“We (the US) remain closely engaged with Kosovo, Serbia and EU partners in the dialogue facilitated by the European Union. We thank and recognise the tireless efforts of the EU Special Representative, Miroslav Lajçak ”
In June, Lajcak was accused by several members of the EU Parliament of being biased against Kosovo. German MEP Michael Gahler and Austrian MEP Thomas Waltz, during a meeting of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, both levied harsh words against Lajcak.
Waltz said that EU communications make it seem like the aggression comes from Kosovo, not Serbia which risks undermining EU credibility.
“A bully is always a bully, so we really give a bad impression by defending the abusers while attacking the victims of aggression, even if we think some political moves were wrong. This undermines our credibility in the region,” Waltz added, also asking Lajcak to demonstrate any success in this work over the last four years.
He continued, “You present all the demands you have to Kosovo, what it should do, while you don’t say a single point to Serbia what it should offer. And all those statements about the Russian orientation of Serbia, the continuation of the aggression, what signal do you think you give to those hundreds of thousands of protesters who rose up against the Vučić regime?! Are you discouraging them? I would personally ask you about your role in this”, he said.”
Gahler noted recent Serb actions such as the reaction to the licence plate issue, siding with convicted war criminals, foreign policy coordination with Russia, broken promises, non-signature of “alleged” agreements, resigning from all public institutions in Kosovo, and refusing to take part in elections.
“Should you not have publicly criticised Vucic as well? Should the EU not have threatened to reduce the flow of money to Serbia? Should you not address the Serb nationalism which is the root cause of instability and fear throughout the entire Western Balkans?”
He added that Kosovo is the most pro-Western country in the region with political achievements, anti-corruption achievements, economic growth, progress in the rule of law, a government with high public support and 100% alignment with Western foreign policy.
“Kosovo is open to a balanced solution with Serbia but with an honest broker that does not appease the Serb president and pressure the victims,” he added.
Former Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj told Euractiv earlier this year that Kosovo has a strategic review of its participation in the EU dialogue and how the EU treats Kosovo compared to Serbia. “Kosovo should not be held hostage because of EU structural and political issues to achieve lasting peace and mutual recognition,” she said.
The former minister added, “I do not see the point of Kosovo participating in EU-led dialogue anymore, so this could be achieved by US mediation as the US recognises both Kosovo and Serbia as states and it is impartial.”
Concerns have also been raised due to the fact that Lajcak is from Slovakia and Borrell is from Spain, two countries that do not recognise Kosovo’s independence.
Meanwhile, the former inspector general of Kosovo’s Intelligence Agency, Burim Ramadani, has warned of a “scandal” that could overthrow Lajcak.
“A scandal will topple Lajcak. The scandal that may come to Lajcak and his team will ultimately remove him from mediating the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia,” he wrote on Facebook.
A spokesperson for the dialogue process did not respond to Euractiv’s questions on the allegations against Lajcak by the time of publication.
(Alice Taylor | Euractiv.com)
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