"Pristina gambled away status of Brussels’ favorite"

Director of the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric says Belgrade continues activities in normalizing relations with Pristina.

Source: Tanjug
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This is the case "although there are plenty of problems in the implementation of what had been the agreed in the Brussels dialogue," he said on Tuesday.

In an interview with Tanjug, Djuric said that he would travel to Brussels on Wednesday to take part in meetings on the implementation of the deals reached.

Djuric said that Pristina's pursuing of politics of obstruction and stalling in the implementation of key elements of the Brussels agreement had cost it the exclusive status of Brussels’ favorite in the process.

"It seems that for the first time since the beginning of the negotiating process, although the unilaterally declared independence (of Kosovo) is recognized by some of the most influential EU members, the burden and stigma of the party thwarting the process of normalization of relations is being unequivocally transferred to Pristina," added Djuric.

Djuric said that Belgrade was able to continue the dialogue at the level of prime ministers whenever the other party might say it was ready.

However, just as many times before, now it is Pristina’s move, Djuric said, "but what's new is that Brussels has made it clear to the Pristina representatives that Belgrade and Serbia's EU integration process could no longer bear the consequences of Pristina’s stalling tactics."

"Belgrade is ready to continue as soon as tomorrow where the last round of dialogue at the level of prime ministers left off, to finalize and formalize agreements on telecommunications and on the most important issue to us, the community of Serb municipalities," he said.

According to this official, the dates for meetings are determined in Brussels, "but it is also necessary to, on the ground, persuade Pristina to implement what has been agreed so far, in order to have a reasonable pace in the process of normalization of relations but also the process of European integration".

Djuric, referring to the recent visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Belgrade, said that the outcome of this visit confirms that interests of Serbia and the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija "can only be preserved with a rational policy that is accountable to its people and to the region," and also with "the firm personal integrity and dedication of the people representing Belgrade in dialogue with Pristina."

According to him, Merkel "in the clearest way expressed her respect for the policy of Serbia and said that she appreciates the constructiveness that Belgrade shows in the Brussels dialogue with Pristina."

"The willingness to compromise, which Mrs. Merkel has recognized in our activities, however, should not be identified with deference, because we never compromised in Brussels with key interests of Serbia and the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija," said Djuric and added that Serbia with such a policy "gained respect where it needed more respect and kept the support where it needs it to survive."

He also believes that there is "essential difference between Merkel's recent messages and the ones she brought to Belgrade during her previous visit," and that the reason for this was Serbia lately - "thanks to the seriously thought-through and intricately led and directed policy of the government of Aleksandar Vucic as well as responsible, consistent, and constructive foreign and internal activities" - managed to "drastically increase its international credibility."

"Belgrade's policy which is based on genuine concern for the prosperity and stability of the region" has not left EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini indifferent, either," remarked Djuric - "as a mediator and guarantor of the implementation of what is being agreed in Brussels."

"However, although we are glad that our efforts and constructive approach are today appreciated in some of the key global centers of power, we cannot relax and gloat, because we know that in the process of dialogue with Pristina may serious discussions and decisions still await. We will continue to act responsibly towards our European partners, but above all towards our own country and people," he concluded.

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