By Bojana Barlovac and Fatmir Aliu
Top Kosovo and Serbian officials may attend the same event for the first time on Friday – both are scheduled to attend a royal dinner in London marking the start of the Olympics.
Serbian diplomacy faced a potential dilemma on Friday, after top Kosovo and Serbian officials confirmed that they both intend to attend the same banquet organised by Queen Elizabeth II in London’s Guildhall to honour the beginning of the Olympic Games.
Hashim Thaci “will be present together with 180 other statesmen from around the world,” the Kosovo Prime Minister’s office told Balkan Insight. Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga will also attend the royal event with Thaci.
Serbia’s newly elected President, Tomislav Nikolic, is also going to be present. “Nikolic is already in London where he is supposed to attend the Queen’s banquet and numerous bilateral meetings,” Nikolic’s press office told Balkan Insight.
The press office of the Serbian President said that it was unaware that Thaci will attend the event.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 but Serbia does not recognise the new country and has vowed never to do so.
Belgrade has also refused to participate in any conferences where Kosovo is represented as an independent country with its own state symbols.
The United Kingdom is one out of 22 EU member states which recognizes Kosovo, which explains the invitation to Thaci.
Unless the Serbian delegation leaves the banquet, this will be the first time that top officials of the two countries have attended the same event.
Last month, Boris Tadic, former Serbian president, caused controversy when went to a Croatia summit in Dubrovnik and shook hands with Thaci.
Aleksandar Vulin, the new head of the new “Office for Kosovo”, recently said that “no one will ever shake hands with Thaci.”