"UN chair for Kosovo lurks behind US package"

The US "package" for Kosovo will put Serbia and President Aleksandar Vucic in "a very delicate position."

Source: Beta, Vecernje novosti, Tanjug
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The UN Security Council (Getty Images, file, illustration purposes)
The UN Security Council (Getty Images, file, illustration purposes)

That's according to Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti, which adds that "the package" could be presented to Serbian officials on Wednesday, when US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell will visit Pristina, and then Belgrade.

According to media reports, the "special package" contains several points: "broader executive powers" for a future Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO), along with "wider authority in education, health care and culture" while it would "maintain close institutional cooperation with a deputy prime minister elected from the Serb community, who would control the work of the Community and the implementation of its powers."

Belgrade, meanwhile, is expected to allow Pristina to join international organizations.

If Serbia accepts all this, "it would join the EU, and the US would guarantee broader economic and diplomatic support in the international community."

Novosti's diplomatic sources say that the US decided to make the move finding Brussels to be "inert" about Kosovo.

In the context of the ever livelier informal option of partitioning Kosovo, the article continued, "the administration in Washington wouldn't like to see Belgrade's de jure takeover of northern Kosovo, creating a buffer zone between Bosniaks and Albanians, their reliable allies, and allowing Serbia to take control of Mt. Kopanik and Zubin Potok, two important strategic points."

The daily also wrote that the other side of the coin of the proposal was that "a huge burden of responsibility would be shifted to Vucic's shoulders."

"It's hardly a coincidence that the president of the state is the first address the package will reach, being the most prominent political figure in Serbia," said Vecernje Novosti.

"The first consequence can already be discerned - the blockade of our state' EU integration, that i, the loss of chance of becoming an EU member," the article continued. "The other risk factor, as assessed, is the loss of foreign direct investments, above all from EU states, which would be a huge blow to Serbian economy."

"Our officials," the paper said, "have received hints of all these black scenarios via unofficial western diplomatic channels."

"Very important visit"

Serbian First Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told Vecernje Novosti that the visit this week by Wess Mitchell, a State Department official, was "very important" - and that it was "the fist visit of such a high ranked official from the new Washington administration."

Dacic said he had a chance to meet with Mitchell, and that "the first impressions were positive."

Chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Kosovo and Metohija Milovan Drecun, however, says the "US document" offers nothing new to Serbia, and promises nothing concrete. This official from the ruling SNS also warned of the danger of the "package" being designed to attempt to make Serbia take sides in the geo-political war between the US and Russia.

"Difficult days are ahead of Serbia, we have our way to the EU, but that does not mean we will renounce Kosovo. It seems to me that now Washington is asking us to agree that Pristina joins the UN and so give up Kosovo, and in return, they offer nothing. Even the offer of broad executive powers of the ZSO is not new, because this is already envisaged by the agreement signed five years ago, whose implementation Pristina is persistently blocking. A much more honest approach by the US would be to finally force Pristina to sit down and starts with the formation of the ZSO," Drecun said.

Political analyst Dragomir Andjelkovic is also warning of the potential pitfalls of the new US offer. He believes that, first of all, it should be stated clearly whether the proposal for Serbia to unblock Pristina's membership in international organizations refers to the UN as well. "In that case, the proposal is unacceptable and would represent just a mirage, a promise of EU membership - which may not even survive - if we give up Kosovo," Andjelkovic said.

Commenting on media reports about a US "package for Kosovo" that will be delivered to Belgrade on Wednesday, Serbian Government's Office for Kosovo and Metohija Director Marko Djuric said that Serbia "has a package of its own" - one the country intends to "defend."

Djuric also remarked in a statement for Prva TV that there was "no need to renegotiate something that has already been agreed."

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