President Vucic today in talks with Lajcak and the new emissaries of Macron and Scholz

The EU team of negotiators in the dialogue between official Belgrade and Pristina, a team led by Miroslav Lajcak, has recently received reinforcements: Emmanuel Bonn and Jens Plettner, advisors to French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, respectively.

Today, they are expected to meet with the Serbian head of state, Aleksandar Vučić, to discuss the further course of negotiations regarding Kosovo and the resolution of the car number plate problems.

The leaders of the most powerful European countries, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz decided to involve their closest collaborators in the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina. In a joint letter, they informed Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić that they had instructed their foreign and security policy advisors, Emmanuel Bonn and Jens Plettner, “to provide direct support to Miroslav Lajcak in his efforts”.

Scholz and Macron proposed that Bonn and Plettner together with Lajcak visit Kosovo and Serbia “to explore the possibilities of moving the process forward rapidly” and in their letter, appealed to Vučić and (Albin) Kurti to “show the utmost determination and readiness to make difficult decisions”. The first ‘difficult decision’ awaiting the negotiating team concerns the agreement on car number plates, which has not been reached since the end of the recent talks in Brussels.

On the first day of September, Kosovo made the use of Serbian ID documents among its population obsolete, and at the same time, the 60-day deadline for re-registration of number plates from the Serbian ‘KM’ to the Kosovo ‘RKS’ (Republic of Kosovo) began. On the one hand, the authorities in Pristina consider ‘KM’ car number plates to be illegal, while, on the other hand, the Serbian side advocates that Serbs in Kosovo are under no obligation to change their car number plates to bear the letters ‘RKS’.

Vladimir Medjak, vice-president of the European Movement in Serbia, said in an earlier statement that official Paris and Berlin want to have a direct insight into the negotiations and that their goal is to increase the intensity of the dialogue.

“If the Americans have Gabriel Escobar and Europe has Lajcak, Paris and Berlin want to be directly involved, hence are bringing their own players. When you introduce new players, it means you increase the pressure. This is the physics of negotiations. As soon as a new negotiator arrives, so does new energy, new ideas, a new mandate. Everyone west of the front line in Ukraine has an interest in ending the Kosovo issue as soon as possible,” he underlines.

If the inclusion of Emmanuel Macron’s advisor in the negotiation process between Belgrade and Pristina came as a surprise, the same cannot be said for Olaf Scholz’s advisor. Since coming to power, the German Chancellor has shown that he is also interested in the Western Balkans. What distinguishes Scholz from his predecessor, Angela Merkel, if we are to judge by Vučić’s statements, is that he openly supports the mutual recognition of Serbia and Kosovo.

At the joint conference with the German Chancellor on 10 June, Vučić admitted that he was surprised by Olaf Scholz’s attitude. “Now we have heard for the first time that mutual recognition is being demanded. That has not been the case so far and nobody has talked about it in Europe. Except for the Americans, who have been talking about it for three years,” said Vučić.

According to the latest announcements, Vučić and Kurti will travel to Germany in early November, at the initiative of Olaf Scholz, to attend the Berlin Process Summit. The aforementioned summit is scheduled to take place on 3 November and is expected to discuss energy security, the green agenda and the common regional market. In addition to the aforementioned topics, bilateral and internal disputes surrounding EU integration of the Western Balkans will be discussed, and the topic of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina is high on the agenda.

(Nova, 09.09.2022)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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