By Milica Stojanovic
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told Happy TV on Thursday that he thinks his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky will not decide to recognise Kosovo’s independence.
Vucic said that if the Ukrainian authorities recognise Kosovo, they “would destroy all their principles, what the defence of their position is based on, they would destroy everything”.
“I do not think that Zelensky will do something like that,” he said.
Ukrainian recognition of Kosovo became a topic of discussion in Serbia after the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Ukraine’s parliament, Oleksandr Merezhko, added his name to an open letter to the US, EU and Britain urging them “not to adopt a Belgrade-centred policy for the Balkans”, particularly when it comes to Kosovo.
Merezhko told Kosovo TV station Channel 7 that in the Ukrainian parliament there are deputies who support the recognition of Kosovo’s independence.
“What I see as a citizen of Ukraine is that Kosovo is on the side of Ukraine, since Kosovo has imposed sanctions against Russia and you are trying to support us,” Merezhko said on August 7.
But the Ukrainian ambassador to Belgrade Volodymyr Tolkach said in a press release sent to Kosovo Online that Ukraine has not changed its position and “respects the territorial integrity of Serbia”.
Tolkach added however that “Ukrainian society, which is paying a high price for its freedom, knows that a neutral position in relation to the aggressor state in practice helps the aggressor to commit his crimes, rather than practical support for the norms of international law – the territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
“In this context, we must recognise the unequivocal position of the Kosovo leadership regarding the condemnation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, especially joining the sanctions against the aggressors,” Tolkach said.
He added that “it is no secret that there are a certain number of MPs in the Ukrainian parliament [who are] supporters of the idea of possible recognition”.
But he emphasised that any decision on the issue was for Ukraine’s president.
Vucic said in his TV interview on Thursday that he does not see “any problem in relations with Ukraine”. He met Zelensky for the first time at the European Political Community meeting in Moldova in June.
“It was a decent conversation, I saw that he knows much more about Serbia than I expected,” Vucic said.
Due to its traditional ties to Moscow, Belgrade is refusing to join Western sanctions on Russia, but Reuters reported in April that Serbia, according to a leaked classified Pentagon document, has agreed to supply arms to Kyiv or has sent them already.
Serbian officials denied the report. However, Vucic told the Financial Times in June that he is aware that some Serbian-manufactured arms “might end up in Ukraine”.
Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour, it has been reported that Serbian weapons have ended up in Ukraine, although Belgrade did not send them directly, but instead sent them to NATO countries that are Ukraine’s allies.