Lajčák to N1: Both Belgrade and Pristina understand dialogue has no alternative

NEWS 04.03.2021 21:48
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Miroslav Lajčak, Lajčak
Source: N1

The European Union Special Envoy for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relation Miroslav Lajčák told N1 TV in an interview that his main conclusion from talks in both capitals was that the two sides were willing to resume the dialogue and understood it did not have an alternative, adding that if there was will, a deal could be reached in severl months.

He added that one of his goals was to inform Albin Kurti, the leader of the Self-determination movement and its candidate for the next Kosovo Prime Minister and the chief negotiator with the Serb side, about the process so far.

„I see as an important thing that he decides on his platform, programme and priorities based on what he has to know regarding the dialogue,“ Lajčák said.

He told N1 TV  that some parts of the future agreement had been agreed upon – about missing persons, internally displaced, and economic cooperation, while currently, the property issue was on the agenda.

Lajčák said there weren’t different interpretations of those parts and that it was clear who, when and how would do that. „But we haven’t published those texts because there is a principle – we negotiate a comprehensive agreement, and that means that nothing is agreed upon until it is. For me, there must be no double interpretation.“

Regarding the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM), Lajčák said the EU did not give up the agreed.

„I think we have enough room, and I expect the first meeting (of the two delegations) in a reasonable time after Pristina forms all institutions, and that can happen before the summer,“ Lajčák said.

He added it was important to him that „none of the players I have met in Kosovo and Serbia hasn’t asked whether the dialogue is necessary. And that is the crucial message.“

„The normalisation is a political and very sensitive issue. For Pristina, it means a formal recognition, establishment of diplomatic relations; for Belgrade, that doesn’t mean the same. That’s why we need a process because without the normalisation, a solution to all open topics, neither Kosovo nor Serbia could not advance on the European road which both sides want to follow and we are here to help,“ Lajčák said.

Asked if that message was more part of technical or political dialogue, the EU envoy said there were no two dialogues but one, a political by definition.

Speaking about his talks in Pristina, he said Kurti understood the necessity of the dialogue and was ready to deal with it as the head of Kosovo’s delegation.

„He is ready to come to Brussels to meet President (Aleksandar) Vucic,“ Lajčák said, reiterating that he would have to wait for the formation of Pristina’s institutions.

The EU diplomat denied rumours he brought a non-paper with an ultimatum to Belgrade, adding he heard about it from some media.

„I want to say that the EU doesn’t bring ultimatums; the EU works with partners who want to join the bloc, and it helps them to speed up the process and meet all requirements. That’s the EU. There are a lot of non-papers in our process, but none is an ultimatum,“ the EU envoy said.

He reiterated the Euro-integration process was based on the rule of law, fight against corruption, independent media…

„That doesn’t change, but the dialogue, normalisation of relations, are an additional condition for Kosovo and Serbia. I don’t want that to be seen as discrimination, but as a logical sign that you cannot bring unsolved issues into the EU. That would enable the (bloc’s) functioning,“ Lajčák said.

Asked whether the EU expected Serbia to recognise Kosovo’s independence, he said he could only say what was within his mandate, and that was an agreement on normalisation. „I cannot go out of my mandate and say more than it is within it.“

Lajčák said the negotiators from both sides should be open to their publics and present what they negotiated transparently. „I don’t want it to be a process inside the negotiating rooms and that the public does not know anything about it.“

Commenting on the US new administration, the EU envoy said Washington’s position was clear – their diplomacy aimed to help the EU and the Western Balkans’ European road.

Asked if the EU could accelerate the process or set the deadlines, Lajčák said there were no deadlines and that the bloc was ready to follow the speed at which the two sides were prepared to go.

„Knowing the details of the process, I say that can be over in several months if there is will.“