Kosovo – Serbia leaders convene in virtual Paris Summit

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 10, 2020 13:21

Kosovo – Serbia leaders convene in virtual Paris Summit

TIRANA, July 10 - Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and President of France Emmanuel Macron hosted a meeting between President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti on Friday.

During the Summit, Prime Minister Hoti announced that Kosovo's territorial integrity is inviolable and cannot be part of negotiations. He added that Kosovo's constitutional order cannot be changed and the final agreement with Serbia must be in full compliance with the Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo.

Furthermore, Hoti said that the final agreement between Kosovo and Serbia should result in the former landing a seat in the UN, thus having its independence status recognized by the five member states which currently do not. The PM noted said that justice should be provided for all victims of violence perpetrated by Serbia during the war.

However, to President Vucic, these principles constitute an ultimatum.

"I have said that all this is meaningless, that I am ready to talk and take small steps ", he said after the meeting, emphasizing that on Sunday a video conference will be organized as a formal beginning of the Kosovo-dialogue Serbia, while the official meeting will be held in Brussels on Thursday.

Today's video conference followed separate meetings between French President Emmanuel Macron, with Prime Minister Hoti on Tuesday and President Vucic on Thursday.

The European Union will also mediate the first high-level meeting between Kosovo and Serbia on Sunday, July 12, since November 2018.

On Monday, European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said that Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic will hold a meeting brokered by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and the EU special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak.

"This meeting will resume discussions and work to reach a comprehensive and legally binding agreement on the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo that will address all outstanding issues," he said.

The plan to resume talks mediated by the European Union was revealed over a week after the Special Prosecutor Office announced a ten-count indictment against Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and Democratic Party leader Kadri Veseli, on the charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The allegations were made on the eve of the Kosovo-Serbia White House meeting scheduled for June 27 to be brokered by Ambassador Richard Grenell, President Donald Trump's special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia peace talks. However, as a result of the indictment, the meeting was cancelled although Ambassador Grenell announced that a new date for the meeting would be set soon.

EU-mediated Kosovo-Serbia talks began in 2011 and provided a range of agreements but did not meet the goal of normalizing relations between the two countries. Since then, the EU-mediated dialogue has been on hold since late 2018 partly due to Kosovo's government imposing a 100% trade tariff on all Serbian goods at the time. With former PM Kurti's government in power, the tax was replaced with reciprocity measures which was not well-received by the U.S.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 10, 2020 13:21