Lajcak from Belgrade: The status quo is not sustainable for either side

„We are not interested in maintaining the status quo and we are ready to bring the process to a successful completion as soon as the two sides are ready for it,“ the EU envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak said last night from Belgrade after meeting with the Serbian President. Lajcak also conveyed the expectations of EU member states – the continuation of the dialogue and the implementation of everything that was agreed so far.

Miroslav Lajcak is currently on his third official visit to Belgrade as the EU envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

At the beginning of his media address last night, Lajcak shared his impressions of the meetings he previously had with Pristina officials.

In his words, it was important for him to come for a visit as soon as possible after the elections in Kosovo to discuss the continuation of the dialogue after the formation of Pristina institutions.

He also revealed that he came to inform his interlocutors about the details of the process and the progress that has been made since the dialogue was continued in July last year.

We are not interested in maintaining the status quo

The EU envoy said that he had constructive talks with the Kosovo election winner, the leader of the Self-Determination party, Albin Kurti, the acting Kosovo president, Vjosa Osmani, the acting Prime Minister, Avdullah Hoti, and other officials.

„I sent the same message to everyone, which I will repeat here as well – first of all, the EU members expect the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue on the comprehensive normalization of relations and all open issues to continue constructively and in good faith. We are not interested in maintaining the status quo and we are ready to bring the process to successful completion as soon as the two sides are ready for it,“ Lajcak said.

He also shared another expectation of the EU member states:

„For the two sides to implement everything that has been agreed as part of the dialogue process in the last ten years.“

Lajcak also addressed the cooperation between the EU and the USA regarding the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

„We are closely cooperating with the US and we are returning to our close cooperation. We jointly organized the visit, we planned a joint visit with my colleague Matthew Palmer, who could not come because of covid. We talk several times a week and share the same goal for the Western Balkans – which is joining the EU.“

Following his visit to Pristina and the talks he led there, Lajcak said he was glad that „there is an understanding that dialogue is of crucial importance and that it must continue after the institutions are formed.“

Lajcak revealed that he is also pleased with Vucic’s readiness „to come to Brussels whenever we invite him and continue the path to a comprehensive agreement on normalization, resolving all open issues once and for all.“

He reiterated that dialogue is crucial for the parties’ progress on their European path, noting that the status quo is not sustainable for either side.

„Serbia has already made great progress toward EU membership, and dialogue is the key to further progress toward EU membership,“ he said.

You choose some priorities, but you have to accept others

When asked to comment on Albin Kurti’s statements that Pristina is entering the dialogue to obtain mutual recognition, without compromise or border changes, Lajcak said that his mandate is to mediate in the dialogue, adding that „defining the final phase“ depends on the parties themselves.

He also commented on Kurti’s allegations that dialogue would be the fourth priority of his government.

„No government has the luxury of choosing its priorities. You choose some priorities, but you have to accept some other priorities. I do not see any conflict in the priorities Kurti set in his election campaign, but he also knows that his number one external priority is to continue the dialogue, because he is expected to do so and he accepted that in our talks,“ Lajcak added.

Lajcak on constitutional changes: International agreements must correspond with domestic legislation

When asked whether he maintains his earlier position that Serbia and Kosovo must change the constitution when concluding the final agreement on the normalization of relations, Lajcak reiterated that international agreements must correspond with domestic legislation.

„That is what I said and I can only confirm that,“ Lajcak briefly added.

He also underlined that a significant number of agreements signed in the last ten years have been implemented, while the EU is leading the monitoring process. Lajcak then noted that a comprehensive agreement should settle all issues, including the implementation of agreements signed in the past.

The EU envoy began his official visit to Kosovo on Monday by visiting the headquarters of the Self-Determination party and Albin Kurti. He met with all major Kosovo parties, female political representatives, and Srpska Lista representatives.

He also informed the ambassadors of the member states in Pristina yesterday about the progress in the dialogue.

One of the main messages Lajcak sent from Pristina, after meeting with officials, was that he does not see any obstacles to reaching an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina during the mandates of Albin Kurti and Vjosa Osmani. He also conveyed his expectations that such an agreement could be reached in a couple of months, adding that everything depends on the parties involved in the dialogue.

Yesterday, before leaving Pristina, he also met with representatives of EU countries with whom he discussed his stay in Kosovo. “We agreed that the dialogue is of key importance for Kosovo’s and Serbia’s European aspirations and the EU expects its continuation,” Lajcak tweeted.

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