April 13. 2024. 5:49

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Montenegro won’t withdraw recognition of Kosovo as the EU calls for calm

The new President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatovic, stated that the country will not withdraw its recognition of Kosovo’s independence and will continue along its current line of foreign policy.

Milatovic was elected on Sunday after defeating Milo Djukanovic, ending decades of the Democratic Party of Socialists’ rule of the country.

He told Nova Television that the European path of Montenegro is indisputable and that foreign policy, based on signed international agreements, will not change. Regarding Kosovo, when asked whether it is realistic to say recognition will not be withdrawn, he said “this is clear.”

“We support everything that Belgrade and Pristina will agree on. I think that the normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina is important for all countries in the region, and Montenegro wants to be a good neighbour that will promote good neighbourly relations,” he said.

Kosovo declared unilateral independence from Serbia in 2008 following the 1998-1999 Kosovo-Serbia war. Belgrade refuses to recognise its independence and continues to consider it a province. Furthermore, it has actively lobbied against other countries recognising it or asking them to withdraw recognition.

In the EU, Cyprus, Spain, Greece, Slovakia, and Romania do not recognise Kosovo as independent.

Meanwhile, the two countries have been locked in EU-backed dialogue to normalise relations for over a decade. Progress has been made in recent months as an agreement was reached on the normalisation of relations between the two countries on 27 February in Brussels and on the annexe to the implementation of the agreement on 18 March in Ohrid.

While nothing has been signed, the EU remains hopeful despite tensions flaring again over the weekend. A Kosovo Serb was arrested for setting fire to ethnic-Serb-owned cars that switched to Kosovo number plates under new rules from Pristina.

This resulted in harsh words from Belgrade, and Serbian List, the ethnic Serb political party in Kosovo.

On Wednesday, the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell called for both parties to avoid escalations.

“Serbia and Kosovo committed to the Agreement on the road to normalisation and its annexe. The EU expects both to respect all its obligations and start implementation as soon as possible. The parties must avoid any escalation. The translation of their commitments on their European routes is ongoing,” Borrell wrote in a post on social networks.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)