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Lajčak visits Kosovo and Serbia, meeting on the technical level in Brussels on Monday

Miroslav Lajčák Photo: Georges Boulougouris

BELGRADE / PRISTINA – EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčak visited Belgrade and Pristina to discuss the continuation of the dialogue and the issue of establishing the Association of Serb Municipalities (ASM). He announced that dialogue on a technical level would be continued on Monday in Brussels.

Following the meeting with Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, Lajčak said they discussed in detail how the EU sees the process of drafting the statute of ASM. “I think we have an understanding about this process”.

The government in Pristina rejected a draft version of the ASM statute, created by an EU-backed team, assessing that the document needs to be in line with the Constitution of Kosovo. Kurti presented his own proposal based on the Croatian model for the political representation of minorities.

Asked if this proposal is acceptable to the EU, Lajčak said that everything is based on European norms and European values acceptable to the EU. “We have said this from the beginning, and I will not say more about it”, Lajčak added.

According to him, a middle ground between the two parties would be found to ensure all sides are satisfied. “The facilitators are to find a middle ground, and this is exactly what we will do “, he said.

Lajčak also visited Mitrovica and said he hopes there will be a political solution to fully focus on normalization. He crossed the Ibar Bridge, which separates some 80000 Kosovo Albanians in the south from around 50000 Serbs and other nationalities in the north. He assessed that both sides should refrain from unilateral moves to avoid tensions.

After the meeting, Kosovo’s Prime Minister said that he demanded that Serbia be held accountable for its violations of a previous agreement.

“I welcomed the EU Special Representative, Miroslav Lajčak, to our government office. I emphasized the need for the Basic Agreement to be implemented in its entirety and the need for the EU to hold Serbia responsible for the ongoing violations of that agreement”, Kurti wrote on Twitter.

After the meeting with Lajčak on Friday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said he is “very concerned” about the situation in Kosovo on the ground, especially in the north.

“My concerns stem from Albin Kurti’s passionate need to provoke a conflict and his incredible passion for starting some kind of war and conflict in which he would be the Albanian hero”, Vučić said during the press conference.

He added that he is also concerned about the continuation of the Pristina government’s decision on land expropriation in the north.

Establishing four Kosovo Police bases on privately owned land – in some cases before the expropriation procedure is initiated, raises concerns about the property rights in the north of Kosovo, warns the EU.

On Friday, the EU urged the Kosovo authorities to adhere to legal procedures in expropriation in the north strictly.

“Each expropriation is by nature sensitive, which is why legal procedures provide for steps such as prior notification and comprehensive information of real estate owners, their right to comment on the requested expropriation, the possibility of an appropriate legal remedy and their adequate compensation before the end of the process”, the statement concluded.

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