Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz want Belgrade to come closer to a compromise with Kosovo
French and German leaders sent a joint letter to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Sunday, urging him to prepare for “Hard Decisions” in the dialogue between Belgrade and the separatist province of Kosovo.
In their correspondence, published by Vucic’s press office, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said normalizing relations between Kosovo and Serbia is paramount for European and Balkan stability.
“We… urge you to show maximum determination and will to take difficult decisions that will promote dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia under the auspices of the EU,” they wrote, adding that the recent confrontation between Belgrade and Pristina over identity documents and license plates showed the need for constructive measures.
Macron and Scholz also said they had sent their advisers Emmanuel Bonne and Jens Plotner to help Miroslav Lajcak, EU special representative for the Western Balkans, in his diplomatic efforts.
The two EU leaders submitted the letter after EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced last week that Serbia and Kosovo had reached a “agreement on freedom of movement”. Belgrade, in particular, agreed to abolish entry and exit documents for Kosovo ID card holders, and Kosovo agreed not to introduce the same for Kosovo ID card holders. Serbian identity, Borrell said at the time.
However, tensions are still high between Kosovo and Serbia. While the two sides managed to reach a partial compromise, the Kosovo government is insisting that Serbian license plates and identity cards be replaced by those issued by Pristina.
In this context, the Serbian army on Wednesday launched exercises near the administrative border with Kosovo. Their timing coincided with the previous deadline for changing license plates, which was however pushed back to October 31.
Kosovo unilaterally declared independence in 2008 and has been recognized by the United States and its allies – but not by around half the world, including Belgrade, Russia, China and several EU member countries. Vucic currently pursues a policy of military neutrality and imposes no sanctions on Russia, while attempting to join the EU.