Escobar: Today and tomorrow, agreement must be reached on the situation in the north of Kosovo

2023-06-06 16:05:11, Kosova & Bota CNA
Escobar: Today and tomorrow, agreement must be reached on the situation in the
United States Envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar

The envoy of the United States for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, said on Tuesday that the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on the extension of the situation in the north of Kosovo should be reached today and tomorrow.

He made these comments after meetings with the leaders of institutions and political parties in Kosovo together with the European special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia talks, Miroslav Lajcak, during which they said that the reduction of tensions, the holding of new elections in the four municipalities with Serb majority in the north and return to the negotiating table are their main demands.

Mr. Escobar said that on Friday he and Mr. Lajcak must report to their leaders whether they were successful or not, while warning of consequences in case of failure.

"For Kosovo, it will send a strong signal that Kosovo is not interested in coordinating with us, and I think that would be unfortunate. By the way, not Kosovo but the prime minister. I want to make it very clear that we do not see this as a long-term impact on our relationship, but the actions taken or not may have some consequences that will affect part of the relationship," said Mr. Escobar.

He called the Kosovo government's stance against the American advice to not forcefully send the Albanian mayors of the municipalities to the north who emerged from the April 23 elections boycotted by the Serbian parties, "confounding". He said that there are challenges in bilateral relations related to Prime Minister Albin Kurti and he called painful the thoughts that the United States is directing our relations and commitment to Kosovo for the benefit of Serbia.

"We do not have the same relations with Serbia as with Kosovo. Serbia is not a candidate for NATO membership, it is going through a challenging time in its European integration and we expected Kosovo to be much further. The amount of money we use to support your institutions, including your security through KFOR, means we have a different relationship. This does not mean that we do not hold Serbia responsible for some things that are happening and we have made it very clear that the attacks on KFOR are unacceptable", said Mr. Escobar.

Thirty members of the NATO peacekeeping forces were injured last Monday in a clash with groups of Serbian protesters who oppose the entry of Albanian mayors into municipal buildings. Prishtina accused groups supported and financed by Serbia and linked to Russia of inciting the violence.

Mr. Escobar said that Russia exploits this situation and benefits from it, but Russia is not directing this.

"This is the failure of the political leadership of both parties to advance in inter-ethnic reconciliation. Point. We have all the good will to bring Serbia and Kosovo to a better position, in relations not necessarily friendly, but peaceful, normalized and bringing them closer to the European Union", said Mr. Escobar.

He said that Kosovo and Serbia should immediately implement the agreement reached in Brussels and Ohrid for the normalization of relations between them. The establishment of the Association of Serbian majority municipalities is expected from Kosovo, he said, underlining that it will happen, but the issue is with an angle and how long to wait.

"We know how the Association should look and we know how it should not be. We need to start now. We can have the charter in one day if we want. I don't understand the delay. For me, Kosovo should define itself not by Serbia but by its values, by its relations not with 6 million inhabitants of Kosovo but with 700 million inhabitants of the Euro-Atlantic community. And still every time we talk to this prime minister and his deputy, all they want to talk about is Serbia", he said.

The United States wants to talk about greater integration of Kosovo, Mr. Escobar said.

"So, with the Association in European conditions for the protection of the rights of minorities, I have the platform with which I can go to other European countries and say 'they have done everything that was asked of them' and we must move forward for more benefits for Kosovo. It cannot do this if Kosovo does not fulfill its part of the agreement", he said./ VOA

Lajmet e fundit nga