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Escobar: No commitment from Kosovo on the implementation of the basic agreement

Gabriel Escobar; Photo: US Embassy Pristina

WASHINGTON – The United States Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar said on Tuesday that he had not received any commitment from the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, regarding the implementation of the basic agreement between Kosovo and Serbia and its annex, Euronews Albania reported.

Kurti stated on Monday that he had discussed with the American envoy “the importance of the swift and full implementation of the Basic Agreement and its Annex”. However, in an interview with the Voice of America Escobar said that he had not received a commitment from Kurti.

“We want a concrete commitment for the start of implementation (of the agreement). As far as Kosovo is concerned, this includes presenting the draft of the association for Serbian-majority municipalities. He did not commit to doing this. Essentially, he committed to going to Brussels and being present at meetings, but nothing beyond that,” Escobar added.

On February 27, in Brussels, Kosovo and Serbia agreed on the Basic Agreement for the normalization of relations between the two countries. On March 18, the parties also agreed on the Implementation Annex, which envisages a certain level of self-governance for the Serbian community in Kosovo.

Escobar made these comments on the eve of a meeting between the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, scheduled for Thursday in Brussels. This will be the first meeting between Kurti and Vučić since tensions in northern Kosovo escalated at the end of May. The last meeting between the dialogue facilitators of Kosovo and Serbia took place on May 2, nine days after the extraordinary elections in northern Kosovo, which were boycotted by the local Serbian population.

The American envoy stated that the fastest and easiest way to hold new elections in northern Kosovo would be if the current Albanian leaders resign.

“If you want to have new elections with the participation of Serbs, I think resignations are the fastest, easiest way. The petition as an initiative has never been tried before. We are asking the Serbs to participate fully in the elections when they are decided to be held. How we get there is a matter to be discussed between the parties. However, I believe that resignations would be the quickest. Nevertheless, we are closely monitoring the situation,” Escobar said.

While the Albanian leaders have not agreed to resign, Kosovo is committed to reorganizing the elections but wants to do so through an administrative instruction that allows citizens to dismiss their respective municipal leaders through a petition.

Escobar stated that what concerns him in Kosovo is “the ongoing lack of coordination between the two parties on the way forward, including the use of special police units for property seizures and the eviction of some Serbian institutions from government buildings”.

“All of this needs to be resolved within the framework of dialogue, and we call on the two parties to ensure that all issues are coordinated with the international community,” he emphasized.

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