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Kosovo President Urges Serbia To Stop Meddling, Focus Instead On EU Integration

WATCH: Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga's caution came in an interview with RFE/RL's Balkan Service at RFE/RL's broadcast headquarters in Prague on October 10.


Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga has urged Serbia to stop meddling in her country's internal affairs, saying both Pristina and Belgrade must instead focus on the goal of European Union integration.

She said the sometimes violent dispute over the Serb-dominated northern section of Kosovo threatened both countries' paths to membership.

"Our future is towards the EU," Jahjaga told RFE/RL's Balkan Service in an exclusive interview. "The best way to move towards the EU is by supporting each other and not contradicting each other."

Since March, the European Union has brokered negotiations aimed at solving technical issues between Albanian-majority Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and Belgrade, which refuses to recognize it.

The dialogue broke off on September 28 following violent clashes in Serb-populated northern Kosovo in late July, when protesters confronted Kosovo police who had tried to take control of two border posts.

Jahjaga called for the enforcement of the rule of law in an area where the population is resisting Pristina's authority.

"The issue of the north is a matter of the rule of law," Jahjaga said, "and because there we have the illegal groups who are operating and they are a kind of obstacle for the daily lives of the citizens living in those three municipalities in the north of Kosovo."

Jahjaga urged Serbian leaders in Belgrade to "cut off their support" of "parallel structures" in northern Kosovo.

She said the people there deserve to integrate within the institutions of Kosovo, and through those institutions, within the European Union and the Euro-Atlantic community.

"All of these latest statement about the partition, about the splitting of the territory, the people have to get away from the previous century's ideas," Jahjaga said. "The people have to look at this century and the upcoming process that has to come."

On October 10, Kosovo's government ruled out talks with Serbia as European Union mediator Robert Cooper began a two-day visit in a new bid to revive dialogue between the two sides.

Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, in a statement, defined the red lines for the talks as "the independence, territorial integrity, and internal structure and system of Kosovo."

Cooper was in Belgrade on October 7, where Serbia's chief negotiator for Kosovo, Borko Stefanovic, ruled out a resumption of talks until a solution on the disputed border crossings is reached.

This attitude could hurt Belgrade when EU member states have to decide on Serbia's candidacy status later this year.

In its progress report to be issued on October 12, the European Commission is expected to demand Serbia "show a more constructive attitude" on Kosovo, according to leaked drafts of the document.

with additional agency reporting

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