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news 28 Mar 17

Pristina Allows Serbian PM Vucic to Visit Kosovo

The Kosovo government is allowing Serbian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Aleksandar Vucic to visit the northern part of country for three hours on Wednesday.

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Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: Darko Vojinovic/AP/Beta .

The Kosovo government has approved a request from Serbian Prime Minister Aleksadar Vucic to visit Leposavic, a northern municipality with a Serb majority, on Wednesday as he campaigns for the Serbian presidential elections.

“We took a decision for Aleksandar Vucic to stay for three hours in the north, where he will visit a school,” Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said on Tuesday.

“This is a difficult decision for our government, knowing Serbia’s behaviour towards Kosovo,” Hoxhaj added.

But Kosovo prohibited Serbian Defence Minister Zoran Djordjevic and Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic from joining Vucic on his visit.

Vucic, who is running as the presidential candidate of Serbia’s ruling Progressive Party in the April 2 election, said on Monday evening that he was not sure of he would go to Kosovo if conditions were placed upon him by the Pristina authorities.

He suggested he wanted to visit for two days and accused Pristina of trying to use him for its own political purposes.

“It would be suitable for them for me to bang the heroic drums, and I will not do it,” he told TV Pink.

“I'm going to Kosovo for two days, and they [Kosovo’s Serbs] are staying to live with the Albanians, and that's why I'm for dialogue,” he added.

Before the Kosovo government decision, it was reported in Serbia that Vucic wanted to visit the Trepca mining complex, which is claimed by both Belgrade and Pristina, and to hold an election rally in Leposavic.

It is not clear whether these plans have been abandoned or not.

It is also not yet clear whether voting in the Serbian presidential elections will take place in Kosovo and in what form.

Senad Sabovic, spokesperson for the OSCE mission in Kosovo, which has previously been in charge of administering Serbian elections in Kosovo, told BIRN this week that consultations are still underway.

Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry told BIRN meanwhile that Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and parliamentary speaker Maja Gojkovic will be in Vucic’s delegation.

But Aleksandar Vulin, Serbia’s labour minister, has been barred by Pristina.

Vulin was also prevented from entering the country while he was the director of the Serbian government’s office for Kosovo.

The Serbian official to be barred from entering Kosovo was President Tomislav Nikolic in January, when he planned a visit for Orthodox Christmas.

“We started this year by preventing the Serbian president, Nikolic, from entering Kosovo, as well as other officials last year. This visit [by Vucic] will be the first and last for weeks to come,” said Hoxhaj.

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