Kosovo President Hashim Thaci’s first ever meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has drawn heated reactions from ruling coalition and opposition officials in Pristina.
Thaci tweeted pictures of himself with Putin and said later that the meeting was huge step forward in Kosovo’s diplomatic efforts. “This is the first meeting at this level between Kosovo and Russia whose stand and position is very important if an agreement is reached – that it will withdraw its veto in the UN Security Council and allow Kosovo to become a UN member. That is a step forward which was lacking in relations with Russia,” Thaci told Pristina’s Klan Kosova TV, adding that they spoke alone for a few minutes about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and possible peace agreement.
Thaci said Putin “was clear that Russia will support a possible agreement between Kosovo and Serbia”.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj reacted, saying that Kosovo is part of the US and European Union sphere of interest which is in conflict with the Russian sphere of interest. He told Pristina’s T7 TV that it is in Russia’s interest to block the European integration of the countries of the Western Balkans. Haradinaj said he does not know the goal of Thaci’s meeting with Putin. “If the meeting was held at the suggestion of our allies, then it makes sense,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Enver Hoxhaj said the meeting was a new moment in Kosovo’s international relations. “This is a positive event and recognition of the reality of an independent Kosovo,” he is reported to have said.
Opposition Vetevendosje party leader Albin Kurti warned Thaci that the only thing he can discuss with Putin is possible asylum in Russia.“After all the concessions he has made to (Serbian President Aleksandar) Vucic, Thaci has his picture taken with Putin. The only thing he can discuss with him is political asylum in Russia,” Kurti wrote on his Facebook profile.