Serbian president says Belgrade must accept Kosovo plan if it wants to join EU

Serbian president says Belgrade must accept Kosovo plan if it wants to join EU
President Aleksandar Vucic prepares Serbia for compromise solution with Kosovo.
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje January 23, 2023

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said late on January 23 that if Serbia does not accept the French-German proposal on solving the dispute with Kosovo, the EU integration process of the country will be halted.

Vucic hinted a few days ago that an agreement on the normalisation of Belgrade’s strained relations with Kosovo is possible, but he admitted reservations on “one important issue”, which is recognition of Kosovo.

In his address to the nation, Vucic said that the change in geopolitical circumstances contributed to the “harshest approach” by Western countries towards Serbia and the Kosovo issue. 

Vucic said that during the meeting with five international representatives on January 20 he was told that Serbia must accept the plan.

If it does not do so, Serbia would face an end to its EU integration process, interruption and withdrawal of foreign investments, and comprehensive economic and political measures that would cause great damage to Serbia.

Vucic plans to invite representatives of all parliamentary groups to meetings in the next few days to inform them about how the negotiations on Kosovo have progressed.

“In the next five to six days, we will start discussions with parliamentary groups,” the president said.

Vucic said that during the government session, which was held earlier on January 23, tactical moves for the upcoming process of a finding solution to the dispute with Kosovo were agreed.

The content of the proposal has not been disclosed, but Vucic commented that there is no longer talks of mutual recognition with Kosovo. However, Serbia would have to accept Kosovo’s membership of international organisations like the UN, Nato and the Council of Europe.

“We can vote against, but we have to accept their membership,” he said.

"What we can do," he said, "is to discuss how to raise the level of trust between Serbians and the Albanians and how to build a position for some future long-term peace."

"First of all, the Community of Serbian Municipalities must be formed," Vucic underlined, adding that he expects the Community to be formed in the coming months with the support of the US.

The president reiterated that he will protect the unity and integrity of the country, and that Serbia must find as many compromise solutions as possible with Kosovo’s institutions for future long-term peace.

Serbia has refused to recognise Kosovo as a separate country since Pristina unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. However, the two countries are required to normalise their relations if either is to join the EU.