It is necessary to fully fulfill what was agreed in the Brussels Agreement. Primarily, the formation of the ASM with the powers that are envisaged and included in the Brussels agreement, the Russian ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko said.
In a guest appearance on the show Pravi Ugao on RTV Vojvodina on Thursday, Botsan-Kharchenko said that no one however, has even begun to implement such an agreement. It undermines the EU’s authority, although he admits, it is difficult to negotiate. Nevertheless, the most important thing is to carry out the agreement and for it to become a part of the reality in Kosovo, highlighted this ambassador.
During a recent visit to Moscow, Serbian National Assembly Speaker, Ivica Dacic, said that Russia and China should join the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina due to increased pressure on Serbia. What is Belgrade asking of Moscow and what is a compromise from the Russian point of view?
„He demands that the broadest possible format of mediators exist in the dialogue, which is, in fact, the best way to negotiate, be it when it comes to Kosovo or any other international issue. Of course, this is the opinion of Ivica Dacic, but it is not unrealistic. The reality is that there is the dialogue under the auspices of the European Union, and we – Russia – given that Belgrade agreed to conduct the dialogue in such a way, with EU mediation, even before the first round of Brussels – understood Belgrade’s clear position of being in favor of such a dialogue option. Therefore, bearing in mind the desire and clear position of Belgrade, we supported this way of negotiations, especially in the UN, which is very important, because the dialogue was supported by the UN Security Council and it thus gained special legitimacy,“ said Botsan-Kharchenko.
The ambassador added that this does not mean Russia continued to look at the dialogue with „closed eyes“ and that it did not follow what was happening in Brussels. He revealed that Russia had consultations with the EU.
„We openly pointed out what, in our opinion, is unbalanced, what is the problem, the barrier, what can become an obstacle, and the situation is now such that we were mostly right,“ he emphasized.
The issue of Kosovo is in the Security Council, Serbia did not ask for Russia’s additional involvement
For Russia, however, the Kosovo issue is discussed in the United Nations Security Council.
„I cannot say that the resolution of the Kosovo issue is happening by ‘bypassing’ the Security Council. Discussions are taking place regularly and the situation is still being discussed there. No decision, whether in the framework of dialogue or any other decision, and I mean the final decision – the adoption of a resolution instead of the current resolution 1244, can pass without the support of the Security Council. Now, Resolution 1244 remains in force. It remains completely in force,“ Botsan-Kharchenko emphasized.
When asked whether Russia ever received an invitation from the Serbian authorities to join the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina outside the Security Council, in the same way the US representatives are involved, the Russian ambassador confirmed that Russia did not receive any such official invitation.
In his words, this is the case because Serbia has in mind the fact that Russia is a member of the Security Council and as such acts in that format. He underlined that Russia and Serbia have good cooperation.
„We have influence. We use our influence as a permanent member of the SC. You asked – what is Belgrade asking of Russia? I would not formulate this in such a way, that Belgrade is asking for something from us, or we are asking something from Belgrade. Given our character and the content of our relationship, we do not ask for anything from each other, but we cooperate in the best way based on mutual interests and each country generally understands what it must do in mutual interest that would suit both Belgrade and Moscow,“ the ambassador said.
There is no new compromise idea at the negotiating table
When asked to comment on the possibility of a „compromise“ – in the form of border changes or recognition, as Botsan-Kharchenko himself once said that Russia is ready to consider new aspects of participation in resolving the Kosovo issue if Serbia so wishes, and with Dacic’s latest announcement calling on Russia to engage in dialogue, the Russian ambassador said:
„I can only repeat: We did not receive any invitation. If we have an official invitation from Belgrade, Russia will consider it. As for the new aspects of the proposal, they were not proposals, but rather options and the media discussion about possible options. But now the situation is such and that is what we know is on the negotiating table and there is no new idea for a compromise. No one put forward something new and out of the ordinary. It is requested, there are also official statements of our partners – Belgrade is being requested to recognize Kosovo.”
The compromise is that there will be no other resolution until another agreement is reached
The Russian ambassador argued that these are „the same old stories repeated over and over“, while at the same time noting that „Belgrade remains firm in its stance that recognition is impossible“. According to this diplomat, the compromise lies in the following – there is no other resolution except 1244 until another agreement is reached.
„Resolution 1244 is a compromise. Resolution 1244 exists until another agreement is reached, until a compromise is reached between Belgrade and Pristina. If it comes to be, for us, the most important position is Belgrade’s position. If Belgrade accepts a solution, for us it would be the basis for a position in the Security Council. Based on the compromise, it is possible to change Resolution 1244 in the future. While there is no compromise, the resolution exists. Of course, so-called Kosovo’s independence and the unilateral declaration of that independence is a direct violation of Resolution 1244, i.e. international law.“
Resolution 1244 is not on the negotiating table, it is more than that
„Resolution 1244 is not on the negotiating table. It is more than that,“ the Russian ambassador emphasized.
Resolution 1244, like any other SC-supported resolution, is a fundamental document for resolving the Kosovo issue, he added, noting that it must be respected as part of international law.
After the recent tweet of the Russian ambassador in Washington that the US should stop supplying the KSF with weapons because it is contrary to Resolution 1244, the ambassador added that „it is very difficult to say anything better“ than what his colleague in Washington previously alerted about.
„Everything he said was said in the best possible way,“ he said.
The US arming the KSF and support for dialogue are double standards
According to the ambassador, the fact that the United States is arming the KSF outside the resolution, and at the same time offering itself as a partner to help the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, represent „double standards.“
„The supply of weapons undermines efforts, and this is not the first time. There has been support in the form of weapons before, during the conflict as well, a lot is known about such things. Of course, there are examples of double standards. On the one hand, there is a statement of desire to contribute to resolving the Kosovo crisis, and on the other hand, the supply of weapons on the territory that is really a crisis territory,“ Botsan-Kharchenko stated.
He denied the allegations presented in the documentary recently aired on RTK about the alleged malignant influence of Russia in the Western Balkans, assessing it to be a “complete lie.” The ambassador underlined that Russia does not react to the intensified „false news“ about it because it does not want to lose contact with reality.
„I would not say that we react intensively and actively because of so many false things. If we reacted now, we would forget about real things – projects and activities that we have to work on, what real life is,“ he added.
The objections to joint military exercises are absurd
Commenting on the announced joint military exercise of Russia, Belarus, and Serbia, Ambassador Botsan-Kharchenko says that he does not see „anything disputable“ in that, although they „received objections“ including ones that say Russia has no right to conduct exercises within „its own territory“.
This is absurd, as are the objections to the joint military exercise of Serbia, Russia and Belarus – the ambassador said.
These are three sovereign states that have the right to do what suits the interests of each state and they can cooperate in spheres, including the military sphere, by conducting joint military exercises
On the observation that one of these states is a candidate for EU membership, Kharchenko replied that the EU is not a military organization.
„I don’t understand what the problem is,” he remarked. „Yes, this shows cooperation, mutual support and it is all obvious, but each of these countries and all three together have the full right to conduct exercises together. Why not?! Does this exercise endanger anyone, I ask? Are there any threats to anyone?!”
The goal of the future office of the Russian Ministry of Defense in Serbia is „exclusively the coordination of military-technical cooperation“
„Every project with Russia contains numbers, only now we don’t have time for those numbers, but there are analyzes with numbers and a conclusion that is absolutely outside of political reasons, but statistical data – a contribution from each campaign, let’s start with NIS, etc. this is about the development of Serbia, so then I don’t understand why the EU if it really wants Serbia to become a member of that EU one day, why the EU wants to impoverish its future member?! To impoverish it by making it give up on cooperation that is very beneficial for Serbia.“
When it comes to the goal of the future office of the Ministry of Defense of Russia in Serbia, Kharchenko reveals that it will be „an exclusive coordination of military-technical cooperation.“
Russia also has such an office with other friendly countries with which it has military-technical cooperation.
The Russian ambassador also estimated that progress has been achieved in cooperation with Serbia at this level.
„I want to emphasize one thing – that progress that fully corresponds to the interest of Serbia and the region as a whole does not endanger anyone. There is progress. As for the delivery of equipment, the equipment is quite modern, not simple and of course, this level of cooperation requires the presence of experts to coordinate these activities. And this is absolutely transparent and it is not a secret,“ he emphasized.
At the same time, he denied any connection between the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center in Nis and the opening of such a representative office.
Speaking of the effort to improve the status of the humanitarian center in Nis as per Russia’s request, which is not going at the pace that Russia would like, the ambassador says that the work of the center would thus improve even more.
While emphasizing that no one gave up on such an agreement, the ambassador, who visited the center yesterday, underlined that the center is developed.
„The center has established good cooperation with the international organization for civil defense. Then, in the meantime, for a number of years, the center worked at full speed. “
Commenting on the announcements that Russia will improve Russian-Serbian relations through the Russian-Balkan center, Botsan-Kharchenko says:
„This current level of cooperation, as well as the temptations around the world, including the last one related to the outbreak, we in the diplomatic service are asking for more free discussions, maybe discussions outside the official positions of countries, be it Serbia or Russia. Everyone from the region of the Western Balkans, and beyond, who wants to express their opinion, is welcome to do so. I would say that a free exchange of scientific and professional opinion is very necessary, but between those people who can have free conversations.“
When asked if this is the case of spreading Russian influence through „soft power“, the Russian ambassador replied that he would not call it such because as soon as the word „force“ or „power“ is used, it is assumed that there is also an „enemy“. However, it is Russia’s position that there is no enemy in the Balkans.
That is why the invitations for the recent discussion that was organized related to the center were sent to various parties, and Russia wants others to get involved in that as well.
You can watch Botsan-Kharchenko’s full guest appearance here.
A completely different narrative was presented in the documentary „VIRUSSIA,“ aired by Kosovo public service broadcaster – RTK earlier this week. The documentary focuses on Russia’s reported „malignant influence“ in the Western Balkans, with an emphasis on events in Kosovo, Belgrade, and Nis. Its numerous interlocutors include politicians, experts, journalists, and (former) members of security agencies from Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia. Vuk Draskovic, Jelena Milic, Zarko Korac also made a guest appearance in the first episode. The documentary also contains excerpts from the Serbian president’s conferences and Serbian media about Russian influence in Serbia. Read more:
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