Putin says Kosovo provocations break international law, destabilize Balkans

January 18, 2019 12:00 AM

Provocations coming from authorities in Serbia’s unilaterally-seceded province of Kosovo and Metohija might destabilize the whole Balkans, visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin said here Thursday, urging Pristina to respect the international law. Putin arrived in Belgrade on Thursday for a one-day visit.

At a joint press conference with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic at the Palace of Serbia, Putin commented on recent decisions of Kosovo authorities to introduce 100 percent tariffs to goods coming from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as to establish armed forces against resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council.

Serbia’s southern province of Kosovo and Metohija unilaterally seceded in 2008, with the support of the United States and many EU member countries. But Serbia has been since refusing to recognize its independence.

The two sides signed the Brussels agreement in 2013 and continued to lead a EU-mediated dialogue in order to fully normalize their relations.

However, the negotiations were stopped last month, after Pristina’s decisions to raise tariffs and establish armed forces.

Putin said that Russia stands for a vital, mutually acceptable solution based on the UN 1244 resolution, but that “unfortunately, lately the authorities in Kosovo had undertaken several acts of provocation, and made the relations tense”.

The December 14 decision to form the Kosovo army is the “direct breach of the resolution 1244, which directly restricts the establishment of any armed forces in Kosovo, except the international ones”, Putin said.

Asked if there is a possibility for Russia to mediate the negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina in future, Putin did not provide a clear answer, but said that although the EU so far mediated the Belgrade-Pristina talks, not much of what was agreed got implemented.

According to him, authorities in Pristina should show more respect towards the international law in order to find a righteous solution for the dispute.

Vucic reminded that the negotiations were so far led under the mediation of the EU, but that Russia too had a key role because of its power to veto decisions of the UN Security Council. “I will consult with President Putin before accepting any solution between Belgrade and Pristina… but so far it seems to me that there is no mutually acceptable solution in sight,” Vucic said.

Vucic thanked Putin for the support to Serbia to maintain its integrity and sovereignty, assuring that Serbia will endure and that it will continue to look for a compromise solution, but “will not allow to be humiliated”, Xinhua reports.

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