We are working very closely with the United States in the Western Balkans, Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for the European Union, told b92.net on Tuesday.
According to her, this also applies to “the question of (Belgrade-Pristina) dialogue on the normalization of relations.”
Kocijancic said this when asked to comment on Pristina officials’ calls for the US to be included in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, as well as a US congressman’s statement that he would work to make sure the US “certainly gets involved.”
Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj met with the US congressman in question, Eliot Engel, in Pristina on Monday, and urged the US to help Kosovo with “remaining open issues.”
“We seek America’s help, but we also promise that we will honor this assistance with the utmost care for advancing democracy, law and order, fighting crime and corruption, for a Kosovo that is free for all citizens of the country,” Haradinaj said during a joint press conference.
Engel said that immediately upon returning to the United States, he would work with the goal of assuring Washington’s involvement “in the Balkans and Kosovo.”
“The United States should certainly get involved in this (dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina), although it is an EU issue. I am very disappointed with the Serbian government’s attitude toward Kosovo. You know that Kosovo is not yet in the UN due to the problems created by Serbia and Russia. Kosovo is trying to join agencies such as Interpol and Serbia is again blocking it. And in UNESCO Kosovo lost by three votes,” he has been quoted as saying.
Statements similar to Haradinaj’s have also been heard from Kosovo President Hashim Thaci Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli.
The issue has not been addressed as frequently by the Serbian side. President Aleksandar Vucic said recently that the Kosovo dialogue was being conducted under the patronage of the EU – “and for us, the EU is the mediator”:
“We are not thinking about changing any format, and if some great powers are asked for, then all great powers will probably be included. But I do not think this is, at this time, in any way in play.”
In addition, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic pointed out that Belgrade was in favor of returning the dialogue under the auspices of the UN – “but we are not here to put the brakes on the dialogue, but to encourage it.” Dacic also said that Haradinaj’ statements were “intended for internal political use.”
Political analyst and former high-ranking Yugoslav official Azem Vllasi said over the weekend that Haradinaj’s request was a good idea – but also one that could “lead to problems.”
“It is a good idea, only Prime Minister Haradinaj should have addressed the Americans, not Brussels. And it shouldn’t be considered impossible for Serbia to seek Russia’s participation in the dialogue, and in this situation the problems get complicated, while the talks in Brussels should normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia,” said Vllasi.