We sorely need peace and stability. Without the reconciliation of the Serb and Albanian people, we cannot talk about peace and stability in the entire Western Balkans region, which the state of Serbia insists on, the head of the Kosovo Office, Petar Petkovic, said in Brussels today.
The Serbian and Kosovan delegations are currently on a two-day visit to Brussels as part of the so-called technical talks. The delegations are holding bilateral talks with the EU, i.e. Miroslav Lajcak today. While the main negotiators of the two delegations – Petar Petkovic and Besnik Bislimi – are set to meet tomorrow, Petkovic announced.
Five key topics are on the table – the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities, the issue of the missing, justice, energy, and freedom of movement.
„We are continuing these talks in an unpleasant atmosphere, bearing in mind that two days ago, by a unilateral decision of Pristina, I was prevented from entering the territory of Kosovo. More or less, every time when we are here in Brussels and whenever we talk to Pristina, there is an unpleasant atmosphere, but we are here to fight for the interests of our people in Kosovo,“ Petkovic said at a press conference ahead of a meeting with EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak.
The head of the Kosovo Office recalled that 3,063 days have passed since the ASM was supposed to be formed. „And the idea on the ASM came out of the Brussels agreement,“ added Petkovic.
Belgrade insists on the issue of the missing – he revealed, claiming that the Serb delegation brought concrete solutions to this issue to Brussels.
Addressing the issue of justice, Petkovic alleged that the verdict issued to the head of the Zvecan Provisional Authority and Kosovo MP Ivan Todosijevic, is not a verdict issued against him but – „the entire Serb people.“ He furthermore claimed that Pristina is thus trying to introduce a verbal delict and prevent „the Kosovo Serbs from speaking out.“
„On the other hand, you are aware that such an illegal verdict would not have come to be if the Brussels Agreement on Justice had been respected. Article 10 of the agreement was violated, as well as the conclusions with the EU on justice,“ this Serb official stated, adding:
„Basically, the practice thus far has been – Albanians are suing you, Albanians are judging you. The same happened in the case of Ivan Todosijevic. Three persons of Albanian ethnicity passed this illegal verdict. If we want to move forward – it must be amended.“
While accusing Pristina of violating the Brussels Agreement via unilateral acts, Petkovic alerted of the danger of “everything returning to the time before the Brussels Agreement.” But this, he adds, is something Serbia does not want to happen.
Speaking of the issue of energy, Petkovic appealed for the formation of two energy companies for wholesale and retail trade – for the distribution and supply of electricity.
It was agreed in 2013, and of course, we are asking for it to be implemented – he underlined.
When it comes to freedom of movement, Petkovic pointed out that two agreements were reportedly violated – on freedom of movement and the agreement on official visits.
„Let’s put an end to the issue that Pristina is not allowed to illegally and unilaterally ban the entry of our believers, athletes, journalists, and officials into the territory of Kosovo. Especially bearing in mind that the visit of our officials, including my visits, are announced on time as per the procedures,“ Petkovic added.
He once again warned that the number of incidents has increased since Albin Kurti came to power. Furthermore, he revealed that over 93 incidents have been registered since the beginning of the year, including attacks against the Kosovo Serbs, church, and their property.
This must stop if we want to have normalization of relations, says the Serb official.
„What does the case of Dragica Gasic tell us? What is this woman going through?! If it weren’t for the state of Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic, the Kosovo Office, it is debatable whether she could survive there, but we are trying and doing everything we can for Dragica to remain in her apartment and hometown.“
„We are not looking for anything new, nothing impossible. We are only asking for the agreements to be implemented. In addition to Pristina, the EU itself is responsible for that. The EU, as a mediator in the dialogue, has put its signature on the Brussels agreement and all agreements that must be implemented. As a responsible party, we have fulfilled everything, now we are asking Pristina to fulfill its part of the agreement,“ Petkovic says.
Belgrade demands that Pristina respond to all 9 requests related to the search for the missing because, as Petkovic confirmed today, the Serbian side has well-founded suspicions that Serbs were buried at these locations.
„We are asking Pristina to do what we have done in the area of central Serbia,“ he emphasized.
He thanked Lajcak for his efforts in the search for a compromise solution.
The high-level talks will also depend on the outcome of today’s or tomorrow’s talks.
„We are the ones who insist on dialogue. We have a constructive approach and Belgrade is not the one who should be asked on whether the next round of talks will take place, we are always ready.“
In his words, cooperation is needed if the countries in the region next to Belgrade and Pristina want to progress, primarily in the economic sense.
„That is why it is important to talk here in Brussels, because we can solve all major and important topics that burden us here in Brussels. That is why we insist on dialogue because that is the only place where we can solve big and important issues.“
The Pristina delegation has yet to publicly confirm today’s meeting in Brussels. In the meantime, however, Pristina publicist and member of the Kosovo government’s expert advisory group for dialogue with Belgrade, Veton Surroi, shared his views and assessments of the dialogue for the Albanian section of Euronews.
According to Surroi, the negotiations will not be fruitful if the framework of negotiations does not change and if both sides are not represented equally and „as independent states“.
Surroi called the agreement on the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities a „mistake,“ saying that agreements to regulate the lives of Serbs in Kosovo should be concluded after Serbia recognizes Kosovo’s independence.
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