Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and FYROM (Macedonian) Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Wednesday had “a long and open” telephone conversation, it has been announced.

They considered “all the newly-created circumstances.”

A joint statement said that the Serbian president and Macedonian prime minister reached agreement on five points, cited as follows:

“The Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia will resolve any possible disagreement in their mutual relations exclusively through dialogue;
Regardless of any political differences on certain important political and regional issues, Serbia and Macedonia will jointly fight not only to preserve, but also to promote friendly relations between the Serbian and Macedonian people and the citizens of Serbia and Macedonia;

The Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia will make even greater efforts to further improve economic relations and increase trade between the two countries;

In accordance with international public-legal regulations, the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia shall, in good faith and on a friendly basis, protect the rights and interests of diplomatic and consular missions on their territory;

The Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia will intensify mutual communication at the highest level, support each other on the European path and contribute to the stability of the region by strengthening good neighborly relations.”

Not much can be inferred from this joint statement – while the reasons behind this week’s diplomatic drama between Belgrade and Skopje – the latter’s u-turn on a policy announced three months ago, and support for Pristina’s UNESCO membership, and its “offensive intelligence work directed against Serbia’s institutions and organs” – are not even mentioned.

Late on August 20, Serbia withdrew the entire staff of its embassy in Skopje.

Zaev denies everything

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has told the Belgrade-based daily Blic that Macedonia has done “nothing against Serbia.”

Zaev spoke for the Belgrade-based daily ahead of his telephone conversation with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday, amid a diplomatic crisis that saw Belgrade withdraw the entire staff of the Serbian embassy in Skopje.

“Without any uninformed or premature conclusions, we respect and support the invitation of official Belgrade to safeguard bilateral relations between Serbia and Macedonia and set a standard code of conduct. I hope that during the conversation (today at noon) I will resolve all possible misunderstandings with President Aleksandar Vucic,” said Zaev.

Zaev claims – although the Serbian government has information to the contrary – that the Macedonian government “never intended, nor gave instructions to carry out any counter-intelligence activities against or on behalf of any neighboring country, including the Republic of Serbia.”

According to Zaev, his government is “strongly committed to building good neighborly relations with Serbia”.

“I am convinced that the only constructive approach is to have open and direct dialogue on all issues and find mutually beneficial solutions,” he added.

Asked directly the Macedonian government has been striking deals with the Albanian minority at the expense of the Serb interests, Zaev claimed that it was a case of “fake news.”

“Allow me be clear, in our policy there is no strategy and policy at the expense of Serbia. We are committed to maintaining and continuing work to strengthen our bilateral relations with our neighbor, the Republic of Serbia, and our approach to foreign policy is based on the policy of open doors of direct dialogue and of goodwill that will solve problems instead of creating them. We consider it to be the most efficient way of building good neighborly relations, cooperation and partnership,” Zaev told Blic.

Regarding “the Kosovo issue,” Zaev said that the Macedonian government would “seek to build friendly relations based on mutual respect and strengthening trade ties.”

Vucic: Macedonia will vote for Kosovo in UNESCO

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told RTS late on Tuesday that he “knows that Macedonia will support membership of Kosovo and Metohija in UNESCO.”

As Vucic said, the withdrawal of Serbian diplomats from the embassy in Skopje on Sunday was “a way for Serbia to tell Macedonia, ‘we know what you are doing’.”

“We know what they are doing, we wish them no ill, although they have recognized Kosovo, although they will vote for Kosovo’s accession to UNESCO,” Vucic said.

The president added that he would support any “difficult decision” made by the Serbian government if he thought they were right to make it, and recalled “the case with France.”

“It was the same with France, nothing happened, but at least we saved face,” said he.