"Kosovo should join UN as part of normalization process"
Normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina implies Kosovo's membership in the UN, says U.S. Ambassador to Serbia Michael Kirby.Source: Tanjug
"We're not asking Serbia to recognize Kosovo's independence, but for normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina. What exactly this normalization will mean in the end is up to the EU to define, but, in our view, this includes Kosovo's membership in the UN," he said.
The diplomat in this way replied when a Vecernje Novosti reporter asked whether recognizing Kosovo will be "the crown condition" for Serbia's EU membership.
Ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in 2008 unilaterally declared independence - an act Serbia considers a violation of its Constitution and territorial integrity.
Kirby, whose ambassadorial madate in Belgrade ends in late January,, told the paper that Serbia made progress, economically and politically in the past four years, "and in dialogue with Kosovo, relations with neighbors."
When the reporter remarked that "some Serbian officials say Kosovo's membership in the UN is an unacceptable condition," Kirby said that "West Germany never recognized East Germany, and it was in the UN."
When asked whether the demand to allow Pristina to join the UN would be "part of a legally binding agreement which the EU requires at the end of the normalization process," Kirby said his country was "only assisting in this process, which is led by the EU, and at this stage they are not insisting on anything."
"The United States has recognized Kosovo, but it is a matter for the EU where five countries have not. A legally binding agreement is one in a series of papers that Belgrade and Pristina are signing. You've already done that, in April 2013, in August 2015."
Asked whether the close relationship between Serbia and Russia would be "a big obstacle on the road to the EU" and whether the pressure on Belgrade to impose sanctions on Moscow would increase, the U.S. ambassador said he hoped that before that happens conditions would be created to lift the sanctions.
"You can have relations with Russia, but their nature needs to be understood. People here think that Russia, not the EU, is the most important economic partner of Serbia. According to the data of your institutions, which has been published in your press, you received zero grants from Russia. We have given you a billion dollars in donations, yet no one is saying that you got from us anything except bombs. You need to consider the reality and not live in the myths," stressed Kirby.