A pledge by Belgrade and Pristina to the US that they would move their diplomatic missions in Israel to Jerusalem has sparked concern in Brussels, which warned the move could put the pair’s European prospects at risk.
“Any diplomatic steps that would call in question the EU common position on Jerusalem are a matter of serious concern and regret,” the EU’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Peter Stano, said at a regular press briefing while commenting on the agreement Serbia and Kosovo reached through US mediation following talks in Washington.
While mostly dealing with regulating economic relations between Serbia and its breakaway region of Kosovo, the deals each party struck with America also involve commitments to open embassies in Jerusalem. The Muslim-majority Kosovo is expected to do so in exchange for its recognition by Israel.
The development has certainly ruffled some feathers in the EU, which remains committed to a two-state solution and does not recognize Israel’s claims on the entire city of Jerusalem. While refusing to comment on Serbian and Kosovan “individual commitments” to the US, Stano hinted that any actions that run counter to the EU position on the status of Jerusalem would be unlikely to further Belgrade’s and Pristina’s goal of European integration.
“Since Kosovo and Serbia identified the EU accession or even integration as their strategic priority, then the EU expects both to act in line with their commitments, so that the European perspective is not undermined,” the official said.Neither Serbia nor Kosovo has commented on the remarks.
Stano also noted that Belgrade should be particularly careful of what it is doing since Serbia is in the process of “negotiating its accession towards the EU” and should therefore “align progressively its policies” to those adopted by the bloc.
The embassies announcement was made by US President Donald Trump following talks in Washington, and seemingly caught the Serbian delegation – including President Aleksandar Vucic – somewhat off guard, sparking some speculation that he might have been not fully aware of what he had put his name down for.
The development was lauded by Israel, which responded by swiftly announcing its recognition of Kosovo last week. Pristina, in turn, is now expected to recognize Israel, becoming one of only a handful of Muslim-majority countries to do so.
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