Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic has spoken with Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, to inform him about the deal on relations with Kosovo struck in Washington and about upcoming negotiations in Brussels.
Both sides confirmed their “commitment to the comprehensive strategic partnership development,” the Russian foreign ministry said, in a brief statement following the phone call, adding that Moscow still believes that the “Kosovo issue” should be resolved in line with UN resolution 1244.
Adopted back in 1999, that document calls for peace and the granting of “real autonomy” to Kosovo but says nothing about its independence, pointing to the importance of Serbia’s (then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s) territorial integrity instead.
The talks follow an agreement signed in Washington, which the US officials already rushed to declare a “big deal.” The US-brokered accord regulates the normalization of economic ties between Serbia and its breakaway region of Kosovo, including some investment and infrastructure projects.
Still, the agreement does not change the nature of political relations between Belgrade and Pristina; Serbia does not recognize it as an independent state. Following the talks in Washington, Vucic said it was America that his country signed a deal with, since it does not recognize “the third party” as a “legal entity under the international law.”
The US, apparently could not help but advance its own interests through the deal as well. President Donald Trump announced that both Serbia and Kosovo would establish embassies in Jerusalem, which is still not recognized as Israel’s capital by most nations. Additionally, the Muslim-majority Kosovo would establish diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv in exchange for recognition.
The announcement did raise some eyebrows in the Serbian delegation, though, including those of Vucic himself, giving rise to some speculation that he might have been not fully aware of what he had put his name down for.
Still, the Serbian leader managed to resist another US push to advance its interests at Belgrade’s expense. Washington sought to include the “need” for Serbia, which currently buys natural gas from Russia, to “diversify” its energy supply under America’s guidance but Belgrade turned the proposal down, settling for a more general statement instead, Vucic said.
“We should have undertaken a commitment on what we should buy from whom,” he told journalists following the talks. “We did not agree to that … we just could not agree on someone telling us we must buy expensive gas instead of a cheap one,” he added, without mentioning Russia or the US by name.
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