Brussels talks failed because the breakaway province refused to respect its obligations, EU says
Addressing the nation on Monday evening, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said there were reasons for concern but not for panic after talks with the breakaway province of Kosovo in Brussels failed. By the EU's own admission, the problem was Pristina's refusal to abide by the agreement it signed with Belgrade.
"We're in for a tough time starting early tomorrow, with many sleepless nights ahead," Vucic said. According to his account of the talks, EU foreign policy commissioner Josep Borrell warned the ethnic Albanian government in Pristina that he had intelligence describing the situation as "on the edge of clashes," but to no avail.
"Everything Pristina does is illegal and they know it. [NATO Secretary-General Jens] Stoltenberg warned them, everyone warned them" but they are pushing for conflict anyway, Vucic said.
Brussels summoned Vucic and Kosovo prime minister Albin Kurti on Monday to resolve the impasse over Pristina's insistence on abolishing Serbian identification documents and license plates. Kosovo claims Serbia agreed to this in a 2013 document, but Belgrade has pointed out that Pristina has not fulfilled any of its obligations from that agreement.
"We put forward a proposal that President Vucic accepted today, while Prime Minister Kurti did not," Borrell said afterwards. "I will inform member states about the behavior of the different parties and the lack of respect for international legal obligations. I have to say this goes particularly for Kosovo."
Kosovo "remains committed to dialogue on normalization of relations with Serbia," declared Pristina's foreign minister Donika Gervalla-Schwarz, but said this can only be achieved "by fair and just solutions, with mutual recognition in the center."
According to Vucic, however, there is no point discussing anything with Kurti as recognition of Kosovo is "not Serbia's policy." This is not about license plates, but about Pristina failing to abide by its obligations and waging a "hybrid war" against the remaining Serbs in Kosovo, he said.
Kosovo is a province of Serbia that was taken over by NATO after the 1999 air war and declared independence in 2008. While the US and its allies have backed the breakaway region, Serbia has had the support of Russia and China in refusing recognition.