"Pristina is playing good cop/bad cop"

Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic says he respects the fact the US is pressing Pristina to abolish taxes on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Source: Tanjug
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(Tanjug/Serbian MFA, file)
(Tanjug/Serbian MFA, file)

However, he said he "does not believe that the United States can succeed in doing so."

Dacic told Voice of America that Ramush Haradinaj and Hashim Thaci are playing different roles in the negotiations over Kosovo and that it is "not clear who is whose cop."

"Obviously, one plays the good cop, and another is bad. The question is who is whose cop. That's why I said that I respect the fact the United States is putting pressure on Pristina - but I cannot believe that they have not succeeded in that," he said.

Dacic added that tensions between Belgrade and Pristina have already been elevated, but that Serbia will not make any moves and that it is in it interest to reach a solution as soon as possible.

He stated that at this moment this was difficult, while that the idea of ​​delimitation, "that has been mentioned by presidents of Serbia and Kosovo," has not been "elaborated."

"The dialogue is blocked and a decision to abolish the taxes that could restart the dialogue is not being counted on. You have a decision on the army (of Kosovo), the Trepca decision, what Haradinaj is now saying and I think it's necessary to discuss all this in the Security Council," Dacic said.

It doesn't matter to Serbia how many times a year Kosovo is discussed, but it is a priority to hold such sessions at all, Dacic said in an interview given before the UN confirmed that the latest session would be held.

As for the prime minister of the provisional institutions in Pristina, Ramush Haradinaj, saying that "communication had been cut" with the UN mission in Kosovo, UNMIK, Dacic said this was "not a new topic."

"Haradinaj is only one person in power, they play good cop/bad cop. Of course, I think that this is a scandalous statement and it will be scandalous if it happens that way. There are obligations of all Security Council members to warn Kosovo that things can't be done like that. That's why I think it is necessary to hold the session," Dacic said.

The minister also observed that "the bearer of the change in the stance of the United States towards Serbia" had been Assistant US Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia Wess Mitchell, who will be leaving in mid-February.

Voice of America writes that it is not yet known who will replace Mitchell, and that Dacic said he was sad to see him leave - "but we should not waste time."

"I have said it that the chance to reach an agreement is around the Trump administration and this reason, we should hurry up. If there is no agreement at this time, it is difficult to believe that some future administration will be better than this. Half of Trump's term has already passed, (EU foreign policy chief) Mogherini is in the last year of her mandate, so I think it would be worth making every effort to find a solution, if possible this year," Dacic stressed.

Asked about a Freedom House report that downgraded Serbia from a "free" to a "partially free" country, Dacic said that he had not had the opportunity to read it, but pointed out that he never heard anyone raise the issue of freedom in international forums.

He thinks that the focus needs to be on resolving "what will be remembered in 20, 30 years."

"As for democracy, you know I've been in politics for 28 years now. One of the leaders of the government at the time, I asked him when they were passing a law that was not too democratic - 'well, is this what you were fighting for? Is this the democracy you fought for?' And he replied - we were sitting in parliament - and he said: 'We did not fight for democracy, we fought for power'," Dacic said.

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