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Kosovo's Leader: EU Is 'Weak,' U.S. Needed For Talks With Serbia

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci in Berlin on April 29
Kosovar President Hashim Thaci in Berlin on April 29

Kosovar President Hashim Thaci has called the EU "too weak" to resolve differences between Serbia and Kosovo and urged the inclusion of the United States in talks between Belgrade and Pristina.

Thaci said after a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Berlin that "the European Union is too weak and disunited to move things forward in the Western Balkans." He added that "no talks or agreement are possible without the participation of the United States of America."

Thaci, who is in the German capital for talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Mogherini, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron, also met with U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell.

The Berlin meeting is aimed at restarting earnest talks between Kosovo and Serbia after the EU-mediated talks broke down last year over reports of a land swap between the two countries and a 100 percent tax imposed by Kosovo on Serbian imports in November.

Despite heavy pressure from the United States, the EU, and European governments to scrap the tax, Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has said the tax will not be lifted until Belgrade recognizes Kosovo's sovereignty and stops blocking it from joining international organizations.

Merkel said on April 29 that the Berlin talks are "a step on a very long road."

"We agreed to this joint initiative because we are committed to the European perspective of the Western Balkans countries," she added.

Macron said "we have no intention of prescribing a solution" but rather want to "take the heat out of the debate and advance...without giving rise to new regional tensions."

For its part, Belgrade said there would be no serious talks with Kosovo until the stiff tariff is removed.

"We have told Mrs. Mogherini, and she has known from the beginning...that we are ready to continue the dialogue tomorrow if the tariff is repealed," he said in Berlin before the gathering.

Thaci added after his meeting with Mogherini that there was "no prospect of any agreement between Kosovo and Serbia" in Berlin.

A former Serbian province, Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008, a move Serbia rejected. Both countries aspire to join the European Union, which has made the normalization of relations a precondition.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, TASS, and Euronews
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