European Western Balkans

Lajčak and Escobar spoke with Vučić and Kurti, political solution urgently needed

Escobar and Lajčak in Pristina; Photo: Twitter / Miroslav Lajčak

BELGRADE / PRISTINA – EU Special Representative for the Belgrade – Pristina Dialogue and US Special Envoy, Miroslav Lajčak and Gabriel Escobar, visited Kosovo and Serbia. After the meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti, Miroslav Lajčak assessed that a political solution to the crisis is urgently needed.

Lajčak said in a Twitter post that he and US envoy Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar had long talks about the complex situation in Kosovo with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on Tuesday.

“Violence is never acceptable and a political solution to the current crisis is urgently needed. We appreciated his readiness to contribute to it,” Lajčak wrote.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said that he reiterated Serbia’s full commitment to the dialogue process with Pristina, to reaching compromise and sustainable solutions that are to facilitate a better life and relations between Serbs and Albanians, and underlined that the safety of Serbs in Kosovo is a priority.

He underlined his insistence on the full implementation of the Brussels agreements, with emphasis on the formation of the Association of Serb Municipalities (SSM), and called on the international community to engage more actively in connection with this Pristina’s obligation.

Lajcak and Escobar came to Belgrade for talks with Vucic after a visit to Pristina where they met with Prime Minister Albin Kurti, President Vjosa Osmani and opposition officials. Their visit to the region comes after days of riots in northern Kosovo municipalities which broke out when the new Albanian mayors were escorted to their offices by Kosovo police special forces.

They presented to Kurti a three-point proposal for overcoming the crisis in northern Kosovo, which includes de-escalation of the situation, elections in the north and return to the dialogue to normalize relations.

“We are deeply concerned about the situation in the north and call for immediate de-escalation on the ground, early elections with the participation of Kosovo Serbs and return to Dialogue on normalization,” Lajcak wrote on Twitter following the meeting.

Escobar in Pristina: Kurti has two days to respond to requests

“If you turn your back on this agreement, you have turned your back on Europe, with all the consequences that follow, instability in relations, lack of funding and of freedom of movement”, US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar said in Pristina.

Escobar underlined that Kurti has two days to respond to the requests presented to him at the meeting and that he and European Union (EU) Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak will report by Friday whether any progress has been made.

The US Envoy also mentioned Article 7 of the Ohrid agreement, the formation of the ASM, noting that Kurti has a draft law on ASM but that he is hiding it. He stressed that the Kosovo authorities need to immediately come forward with a draft law on the formation of the CSM. “They have it, they just don’t want to present it”, said Escobar, KoSSev reported.

Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani told international envoys on Tuesday that new local elections in northern municipalities can only be organized in line with the constitution and laws.

A press release from her cabinet quoted Osmani as telling European Union envoy Miroslav Lajcak and US envoy Gabriel Escobar that the “democratic participation of the citizens living in those four municipalities” must be secured.  She said that the authorities in Pristina are fully committed to working with their international partners to secure law and order in the north and preserve Kosovo’s sovereignty.

“Punishing criminal groups and individuals who used violence against the police, journalists, KFOR, EULEX and the public is the only way to sustainable, long-term stability,” Osmani concluded.

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