US, Serbian presidents welcome Belgrade-Pristina flights agreement

US, Serbian presidents welcome Belgrade-Pristina flights agreement

US, Serbian presidents welcome Belgrade-Pristina flights agreement Izvor: AP/Tanjug

The presidents of the United States and Serbia welcomed the possible resumption of Belgrade-Pristina flights with Donald Trump hailing it as another victory and Aleksandar Vucic saying a compromise had been reached.

Officials from Belgrade and Pristina signed a letter of intent with the German airline Lufthansa to resume flights between Belgrade and Pristina.

Lufthansa’s Eurowings airline will fly the line once a full agreement is reached to resume them. Serbian government official Marko Djuric, who heads the Office for Kosovo, said before the ceremony at the US embassy in Berlin that the flights can resume once Pristina revokes the 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods, and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue resumes.

The US President Donald Trump tweeted his thanks to ambassador Robert O'Brien and Richard Grennell. 

President Vucic also thanked the two American diplomats. 

Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Vucic said the deal with Lufthansa is important for Serbia. “We did the best we could to confirm what we advocate, the free flow of goods, capital, people and services on the one hand and the other to protect the integrity of the territory of Serbia and find a compromise solution which no one can say was our recognition of Kosovo,” he said.

Vucic said that Air Serbia could not take over the Belgrade-Pristina line. “The Albanians want Air Serbia more than anyone else, but Air Serbia would have to sign documents with the state of Kosovo,” he explained adding that this would mean that the lower section of the air space over Kosovo is no longer under Serbia’s control.

US envoy to Serbia Antony Godfrey said in Vranje later on Tuesday the resumption of Belgrade - Pristina air link was the gain for everyone. "It's difficult for me to understand that two neighbouring cities function without a direct flight. Maybe we will make an incentive from that, and I'm very grateful to ambassador Richard Grennell." 

 Balkans expert, Johns Hopkins University Professor Daniel Serwer said that the agreement to resume flights gives hope that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue will be resumed.

He said that Belgrade and Pristina will return to the negotiating table once Kosovo gets a new government but warned of new problems once the election campaign starts in Serbia.

Serwer recalled that the dialogue is a process which is underway with European Union mediation and occasional American involvement, adding that he isn’t sure that this kind of interaction will give the best results.  

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