Jeremic: Vucic Offered the U.S to Recognize Kosovo’s Independence
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic offered the United States to recognize Kosovo’s independence immediately, and the exchange of territory is now on the table, Vuk Jeremic, a leader of the People’s Party and a member of the opposition Alliance for Serbia after the Washington meeting, said in an interview with Voice of America. The first and most important meeting, he says, was in the State Department with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer.
Voice of America: What did he tell you, what are the messages from that meeting?
“I can say that if I had no some earlier experience in diplomacy and that this is the first time that I have been holding talks at that level, I would probably not be particularly pleased with such a meeting. But it is important that the structured relationship of the opposition with important international centres of power has started. So far, we did not have it. Until now, the only interlocutor not only of Washington, but also of all international actors in Belgrade was Aleksandar Vucic. I can admit that at the meeting we did not have a high level of agreement on open issues, but this is a beginning of the process, for which I believe, will ultimately yield results “.
Voice of America: And about what you did not have consent?
“Perhaps the most important topic of the moment for the American side is Kosovo and Metohija, that is whether there will be a final solution that America expects to happen this year. I am speaking, of course, about a process that is not particularly transparent, so we do not know what precisely is happening in that process, only that there are conversations that are out of the stage, and that these talks are expected to be completed this year. The American position is that they must be completed with the mutual recognition of Serbia and Kosovo. That is the official position of the US administration and that attitude I was repeated at the State Department. Since I represent SzS and the People’s Party, which is one of the founders of SzS, I have transferred our position to the US administration, and it is in opposition to the American position, so that was one topic around which we did not achieve consent. “
“US asks opposition to give up from the boycott”
“For America, Kosovo is certainly the most important thing. What is most important for us is the current situation in Serbia, the fact that there are protests, that the opposition has begun to boycott the institutions, the assembly, the local assemblies and have a common position not to participate in the elections, unless they are essentially different, fair election conditions. I am afraid that we did not come to a match there either, and I will be completely open, we were offered to give up the stance of boycotting the institutions and to give up from plans to boycott the elections. Because, allegedly it is impossible to change whatever beyond the electoral process, which otherwise is right for us, changes should take place through the electoral process, but there can be no change through the electoral process that will be held in impossible conditions,” says Jeremic.
“For example, the question is about the openness of the media, we all know what the current situation is in the media in Serbia. It is not enough that the situation in the media change for 30 or 60 days, as long as an election campaign would last. There should be 6, 9 months of an open, normal media space to actually compensate, at least to some extent what has been missed in the past few years. This was an example I have given in discussions at the State Department. What is a rather strong argument in talks with US interlocutors, both in the State Department and in some in other places, is now an objective report by Freedom House. “
“Agreement on Kosovo is close”
Voice of America: Do you have the impression that both America and the West in some way look through their fingers at the Serbian authorities precisely because they expect to resolve the issue of Kosovo and neglect the state of the media, intimidation, undemocratic conditions — because of which the opposition will not participate in the work of the assembly?
“They will never tell you this explicitly, but it is my conclusion that you are one hundred percent correct when you say so, that it is absolutely the most important thing to resolve Kosovo. The international community, I’m talking primarily about Western partners, has invested a lot in that to reach such agreement in the last few years, working very closely with Aleksander Vucic and the regime and Serbia, and now it is on the step from fulfilling it. We on the step, one step from the final agreement. High officials of the Government say that we are not close to reaching an agreement, it’s just not true. We are close to reaching an agreement and after the conversation in Washington, I very much claim that it is so. The proof of this is also the letter of US President Donald Trump to Vucic, in which the US President wrote “now that you are a step away from agreement.” Or we are really one step from it, or we are only going to be informed about it with some performance, a brutal performance. Probably there could be some unrest in the territory of the province, and to stop these riots, to reopen conversations. These conversations would not be conversations on which something is actually being negotiated, but it just pretends to announce what was agreed behind the closed doors, and this agreement behind the closed doors, we find ourselves, likely, just a step away from its completion.”
“Vucic offers to America immediately to recognize Kosovo”
VOICE OF AMERICA: When you say that America counts on Vucic, does the opposition have any better offer that could be supported by the US administration when it comes to Kosovo?
“Certainly nothing that could be compared with the attractiveness of Vucic’s offer in the time frame he offers them. Vucic offers an independent Kosovo right away. I do not know who could offer a better offer, we certainly are not.”
Voice of America: He did not tell this to the Serbian public?
“Well, of course, he did not, it should be something that should be implemented as a media blitzkrieg.”
VOICE OF AMERICA: Did you hear it here, is that an offer?
“I think that after the talks I had in Washington, I personally no longer have any doubt that this is an offer, and that the question is only where the border should pass.”
VOICE OF AMERICA: So, it’s about the impression, not information or fact?
“You know what, if I tell you from whom exactly and what I heard, from that man I can no longer hear such information, so I will very carefully and diplomatically choose the words. I am absolutely convinced after the conversation, that on the table practically is the exchange of territories, redrawing of borders. American side insist and that the final agreement includes the mutual recognition of Serbia and Kosovo as an independent state. Something tells me that from this requirement to formally recognize Kosovo, America may be able to give up, but only from that step that we do not have to officially recognize Kosovo, but in return to allow Kosovo to become a member of the UN, I have the impression that this is the way it is going. “
Voice of America: And what else can be done to prevent this, what can the Serbian opposition do, and what can you personally do, since you were the Minister of Foreign Affairs when Kosovo became independent and you have experience in diplomacy, do you have the impression that you can push this agenda?
“The most important thing is the legitimacy and strength of the opposition movement in Serbia to remain. When we talk about the movement — we are talking about the broad front of the people who are demonstrating, who are not exclusively sympathizers of the opposition or political party, who are walking in 60 and something towns of Serbia. That these numbers of people who demonstrate remains, to increase in intensity, and to prevent the dissolution of the opposition. What is happening on the streets in Serbia, is simply one kind of burden for the international community, because they have already agreed something with Vucic and this he should implement now. Now, it is waiting to be seen if the protest will die by itself and whether the opposition will fight among themselves and dismantle by the old custom. If that happens, then it will not be possible to talk seriously with international interlocutors. If we stay together, then I think that this is certainly not the last conversation we will have, neither in Washington nor in any other place of importance in the Balkans.”
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