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News 23 Apr 15

Serbian Official Defiant Over Kosovo Visit

A senior Serbian official has said he will proceed with his visit to Kosovo, even though it has not been approved by the Kosovo authorities.

Una Hajdari
BIRN
Pristina

Marko Djuric, head of the Office for Kosovo in the government of Serbia, has said that he is planning on going to Kosovo on Friday even though the visit has not received a green light from the Foreign Ministry of Kosovo.

“I have received information from the government of the province that it is unable to allow a visit to Gracanica, which was supposed to be organized today and tomorrow. All I can say is: See you in Kosovo and Metohija,” Djuric said, using the Serbian name for Kosovo, a former province of Serbia that declared independence in 2008.

Djuric was due to visit Pristina as well on Friday, and appear at a conference, as well as visiting Gracanica, the Serbian enclave close to Pristina.

Visits of Kosovo and Serbian officials to the respective countries are organized by the liaison offices and require approval from the relevant government institutions.

Kosovo Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci was recently denied a visit to Belgrade to participate in a conference, with the Serbian side citing an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

Thaci said recently in an interview that the decision to deny him entry to Serbia and the threat to arrest him “would have consequences”.

However, he downplayed talk of retaliation towards Serbian politicians.

“The behaviour of Serbia will serve as an example of how we shouldn’t act towards our neighbours,” he said.

Visits of Serbian officials have been organized in cooperation with Pristina, with the Kosovo side ensuring the safety of the officials and assisting them with transport.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and President Tomislav Nikolic have visited Kosovo within the last year, both times with the coordination of Pristina.

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