Leposavic, April 3, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic visiting northern Kosovo. (BETAPHOTO/EMIL VAS/DS)

Tensions rise as north Kosovo awaits Vucic’s arrival

Amid speculation on the exact details of Serbian President Vucic’s visit to north Kosovo scheduled this Saturday, halts in the Brussels-facilitated dialogue are making negotiations ‘more difficult,’ says Thaci.

Serbian president Aleksander Vucic confirmed his visit to the north of Kosovo on Saturday, after refusing to meet with Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaci in Brussels for scheduled talks on Friday as part of the EU-mediated negotiations between the countries. Although the visit was authorized by the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday, the precise agenda for Vucic’s visit remains unclear.

According to Kosovo Police, who will be responsible for Vucic’s security during his stay, Vucic will not be allowed to visit Lake Ujmani, a body of water located in north of Mitrovica and shared between Kosovo and Serbia, that has recently become a contentious issue between the two nations.

Rashit Qalaj, the general director of Kosovo Police, confirmed for Kallxo.com that the police will fully enforce the authorization of the foreign ministry, which bars Vucic from visiting Lake Ujmani.

“The Kosovo Police will be there. Kosovo Police will not allow the violation of the statement and the plan of the government,” said Qalaj.

The authorization requirements for high officials of Kosovo and Serbia to visit each other’s countries was a product of the Brussels dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia on the normalization of relations, which has been in force since 2014.

Vucic’s visit to the north of Kosovo comes following the latest increase in territorial discussions between the two countries, where the topic of border changes, exchanges and correction have dominated public discussion.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Kosovo Serbs working for institutions that are supported by Belgrade had been subjected to pressure to attend the visit, which Vucic announced back in August.

Saturday’s visit to Kosovo arrives following Thaci and Vucic’s one-on-one meetings with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, on Friday.

The meeting, which was scheduled to happen between the two presidents, was cancelled after a last moment decision from the Serbian president to not meet Thaci together with Mogherini. Following the Kosovo president’s own meeting with Mogherini, Thaci stated that the process of dialogue is becoming more complicated.

“Every meeting that is happening, it becomes the difficulties to reach the agreement between Kosovo and Serbia are becoming more difficult,” Thaci said.

The dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is in its final phase, and a legally binding agreement between the two counties remains an essential condition for both Kosovo and Serbia to move forward to the EU integration process.

Following the cancellation of the joint meeting with the two presidents, Mogherini has urged Thaci and Vucic to continue their progress with the dialogue, with the next meeting under Mogherini’s mediation scheduled to take place at the end of September.

07/09/2018 - 17:16

07 September 2018 - 17:16

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