By Bojana Barlovac and Petrit Collaku
Heading to Kosovo on Thursday, Borislav Stefanovic will be the first Serbian official to meet Kosovo officials in Pristina since the NATO bombing in 1999.
As part of preparations for the fourth round of talks between Serbia and Kosovo in Brussels, Stefanovic is paying a visit to Pristina accompanied by two assistants, with no security.
“Given the number of problems, it is good to see each other more often, not only at official meetings in Brussels,” Stefanovic told the media ahead of the visit.
He said he had already called Edita Tahiri, head of the Kosovo negotiating team, to come to Belgrade, but as this was proceeding slowly, he had decided to go to Pristina.
“We shall speak about everything; there are many things that we can only solve together and this is a good opportunity for that,” Stefanovic said in Belgrade.
While Stefanovic has only said he plans to meet with Tahiri, Serbian newspapers have reported that the head of the Serbian negotiating team would meet with Kosovo’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hajredin Kuci.
While Stefanovic is expected to meet with representatives of NGOs and experts, it is not clear if any other government officials intend to speak with him during his visit.
According to a source within the Kosovo government, Deputy PM Kuci has asked Stefanovic to meet the minister of local governance, Slobodan Petrovic, leader of the Serb Independent Liberal Party, who also holds the position of deputy PM.
The source said that Stefanovic did not like the idea of meeting Petrovic and expected that Kuci would also refuse to meet him.
“It seems that Stefanovic will meet only Edita Tahiri,” the source told Balkan Insight.
The president of Kosovo’s Assembly, Jakup Krasniqi, said that he will not meet Stefanovic because he is not on the same political level and there is no reason for the meeting.
“In reality, it is not standard to expect the president of the assembly to host an administrative official from Serbia,” Krasniqi told journalists.
Arben Gashi, an MP from the biggest opposition party, Democratic League of Kosovo, LDK, said he is not aware of a potential meeting of LDK president Isa Mustafa and Stefanovic.
“He (Stefanovic) should meet his counterparts and not party presidents in Kosovo. I have no information that president Mustafa has scheduled to meet him,” Gashi told Balkan Insight.
The leader of the nationalist opposition Vetevendosje movement, Albin Kurti, has said he will not meet Stefanovic, calling the visit “a provocation”.
The fourth round of Kosovo talks is scheduled to be held in Brussels on May 17 and 18.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Belgrade still claims the ex-province is an integral part of its territory, and has vowed never to recognise its statehood.