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Serbia's Foreign Minister Signals Dead End On Kosovo Talks


Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic (file photo)

Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said on January 30 that there has been no dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina since Albin Kurti became Kosovo's prime minister and predicted that probably none is on the way.

Kurti has held two meetings with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic since returning to power in March with calls for "reciprocity" amid Serbia's steady refusal to recognize the independence of its former province.

Selakovic told Serbian public broadcaster RTS that talks next week with U.S. State Department special envoy Gabriel Escobar and EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak will focus on the stalled dialogue to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina and everything that burdens them.

"Our position and what doesn't change is that we are always ready to sit down at the negotiating table and talk," Selakovic said. "It is obvious to us that since Kurti has been in Pristina...there has been no dialogue and there probably won't be...so long as he is making the decisions."

Kurti, a wartime student leader and Kosovar Albanian nationalist whose Vetevendosje (Self-Determination) party rose to power after 2019 elections, has used import duties and border checks to press his calls for a change of policies in Belgrade.

Selakovic said Belgrade is weighing its moves and is committed to dialogue and preserving peace, stability, and its interests in Kosovo, which has a sizable minority of Serbs.

Both sides signaled after previous Kurti-Vucic meetings that the parties were far apart in their positions.

The European Union has stressed it was willing to organize a new meeting once the Serbian and Kosovar sides showed willingness to achieve concrete results for their 7 million and 1.9 million citizens, respectively.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and Belgrade spent years encouraging the more than 110 countries that have accepted Kosovar statehood to withdraw their recognition.

EU leaders recently reaffirmed the bloc’s commitment to the stalled enlargement process for Serbia, Kosovo, and four other Western Balkans states but have avoided any timeline.

Escobar, the deputy assistant secretary of state overseeing U.S policy in the Western Balkans, has vowed a renewed push to help those countries achieve EU integration.

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