April 13. 2024. 5:44

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As Kosovo, Serbia negotiators meet in Brussels, Belgrade slams Pristina over Serb arrest

On the same day that Kosovo and Serbia’s chief negotiators met in Brussels with the EU’s Special Envoy to the Western Balkans, Miroslav Lajcak, Serbian President Aleksander Vucic levied strong words against his Kosovar counterpart Albin Kurti, and the EU-facilitated process.

Both sides are currently engaged in negotiations aimed at normalising relations, and while the EU maintains both sides agree, nothing has been signed, and several big stumbling blocks remain.

Vucic called the ongoing talks “severe torture” and said he is “basically not optimistic” about the outcome.

“The fundamental problem is neither what anyone will say nor what anyone will implement. It is much more important if we can normalise relations with Kosovo Albanians. I am afraid that this is not realistic with this type of government in Pristina”, said Vucic to local media.

Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia flared over the weekend after a Kosovo Serb was arrested for setting fire to ethnic-Serb-owned cars that switched to Kosovo number plates.

In 2022, the government in Pristina announced that all vehicles belonging to Kosovo citizens must have Pristina-issued plates. The decision caused outrage from the Serb minority in the country’s north, who continue to use Serbia-issued plates and do not recognise Kosovo’s independence.

Police arrested an individual on suspicion of arson, but also for an attack on a Kosovo police unit, being a member of a criminal group, assault of a public official, and attempted murder.

Kosovo police said the arrest came after “intensive investigations by relevant police units” to fight organised crime and prevent further criminal acts. The suspect has been remanded in custody.

But Vucic accused the Kurti government of inventing “new conflicts” and “provoking Serbs every day with endless incursions in the north and convincing the ambassadors of the Quint countries that it must be done because they are criminals.”

Meanwhile, President Vjosa Osmani met with Germany and Austria’s special envoys for the Western Balkans, Manuel Sarrazin and Johannes Eigner. She mentioned recent incidents in the north of Kosovo, including burning cars with Kosovo-issued license plates.

The Kosovar president emphasised that the incidents in the north of Kosovo are orchestrated by “illegal structures supported by Belgrade”, which aim to intimidate and threaten the local Serbian population.

“Kosovo will continue to be fully coordinated with international allies, to continue efforts for lasting peace, security and stability, while it is committed to the implementation of law and order throughout the territory of the republic,” she said.

According to the Presidency, in the meeting, the parties also discussed the agreement reached on the normalisation of relations between the two countries on 27 February in Brussels, as well as on the annexe to the implementation of the agreement on 18 March in Ohrid.

As for the meeting between the chief negotiators in Brussels, Lajcak posted photographs of him with Belgrade’s Petar Petkovic and Pristina’s Besnik Bislimi separately.

“Today, I am waiting for a dialogue meeting at the level of chief negotiators in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the Agreement on the Road to Normalisation and the current urgent issues,” Lajçak wrote.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)