European Western Balkans

Diplomatic tensions between Serbia and Macedonia

SKOPJE / BELGRADE – Serbia withdrew its embassy staff from Macedonia on Monday. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia said it received a note from the embassy of Serbia in Skopje, saying its staff were being recalled for urgent consultations in Belgrade.

It seems that the main reason for withdrawal were reports that Macedonia was joining diplomatic efforts to secure Kosovo membership UNESCO.

Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić explained that Macedonia’s intention to support Kosovo membership of UNESCO could further aggravate relations between Belgrade and Skopje.

Dačić added that Serbia could change its stance on the application of Macedonia’s constitutional name if Skopje changes its position and supports Kosovo’s entry into UNESCO.

Macedonia’s position to follow the majority of EU member states when voting on Kosovo membership in UNESCO will “directly impact good neighbourly relations,” Daćić said.

Minister explained that if that happens, Serbia could change its position regarding the name of Macedonia.

“If Macedonia really does vote on Kosovo’s accession into UNESCO, even though it is aware of how it affects Serbia and the Serbian people, then I will propose to President Aleksandar Vučić in regards to the name under which we recognized Macedonia, to take into account the position of the European Union”, Dačić said.

Macedonian government said Tuesday that it will not jump to hasty conclusions about the withdrawal of the entire staff of Serbia’s embassy in the country for consultations in Belgrade.

“The Republic of Macedonia is developing friendly relations with all neighbouring countries, and we are committed to resolving problems as opposed to creating them, promoting good neighbourly relations, cooperation and partnership with the Republic of Serbia, as well as with other countries in the region. We are convinced that it is the only way the region can move forward. Regarding this case, without bringing hasty conclusions, we welcome the announcements from Belgrade for the protection of friendly relations and restoration of the situation in the usual framework”, reads the government statement.

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