The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, called on Thursday night for Belgrade and Pristina to tone down their aggressive rhetoric, after Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci exchanged angry statements following a meeting as part of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
The meeting came a day after Kosovo’s government decided to impose a 10 per cent customs tariff on all Serbian and Bosnian products, saying the move was in retaliation for Belgrade’s efforts to thwart recognition of its former province.
In Brussels, a visibly angry Vucic said that talks with Pristina will continue when it cancels its “illegal decisions”.
“When somebody threatens to send troops to the north, it introduces tariffs of 10 per cent and ten years after signing, they violate the CEFTA agreement, how can one expect us to agree on anything?” Vucic told Serbian public broadcaster RTS upon leaving the meeting.
He said he does not want to talk about the conditions for continuing the dialogue, but stressed that “none of our people will appear in Brussels until Pristina withdraws all illegal acts.”
Kosovo’s Thaci told journalists that the meeting was tense, with many confrontations.
“It remains to be seen in the future how things will move, but it is not an easy challenge to face this Serbian apparatus,” he said. “The Serbian discourse was aggressive and arrogant, and our discourse was with arguments to achieve a balanced agreement that would mean mutual recognition and joining UN and replacement of Resolution 1244,” he added.
Mogherini’s office replied with a press release saying that the EU expects Serbia and Kosovo to swiftly deliver on their commitment to the Dialogue given the direct link between comprehensive normalisation of relations between them and the concrete prospects for their EU aspirations.
Kosovo and Serbia should “refrain from words, actions and measures that are contrary to the spirit of normalisation,” the press release of the EU External Action Service read after the meeting.
This was Vucic and Thaci’s first meeting since July 18, after Vucic unexpectedly cancelled a meeting with his Kosovo counterpart in Brussels.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Serbia has vowed never to recognise it. However, both countries are under pressure to solve the decade-long dispute, if they are to assure themselves a future as part of the EU.