By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer and the EU envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, are visiting Serbia to press its leaders to resume talks on the normalization of ties with Kosovo.
“I believe in the possibility of reaching a compromise solution in the dialogue with Kosovo,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic wrote on Instagram on June 3 after the meeting with the U.S. and EU officials in Belgrade.
The Serbian government has stated that the normalization process with Kosovo is one of its priorities.
“But it is necessary to implement everything previously agreed within the dialogue. Belgrade has fulfilled all its obligations and we expect to see the same from the other side as well, so that the dialogue makes sense,” Prime Minister Ana Brnabic’s office quoted her as telling Palmer.
Kosovo’s government, led by Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who took office in March, has said it is busy fighting the pandemic and that talks with Serbia are not high on its list of immediate goals.
Both the United States and the European Union have repeatedly said that normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo are essential for their further integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions.
Serbia and Kosovo have both applied for EU membership and Kosovo is aiming for NATO membership, too.
Palmer and Lajcak traveled to Belgrade from Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, where the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state said that Washington strongly supports the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, with the goal of full normalization of relations and mutual recognition.
“That’s the one thing that would put this issue behind the parties and open up the path to membership in the EU for both Serbia and Kosovo,” Palmer said.
Lajcak said that their meetings with Kosovar government officials and opposition politicians would help prepare for a meeting between Kurti and Vucic.
EU-facilitated negotiations to normalize ties between Serbia and Kosovo started a decade ago and stalled last year.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after a 1998-99 war between ethnic Albanian separatists and Serb forces. The war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign drove Serb troops out and an international peacekeeping force moved in.
Most Western nations have recognized Kosovo’s independence, but Belgrade and its allies Russia and China don’t.