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First Deputy PM and Defence Minister Aleksandar Vucic says ‘everything that happens regarding Kosovo will be painful for Serbia’.
Vucic delivered his stark warning ahead of a series of diplomatic meetings over the next two weeks “that will largely determine the course of events” on Kosovo.
After a meeting with the Italian Defence Minister, Giampaolo Di Paola, in Belgrade, Vucic stated he would soon be meeting Serbs in Serb-run northern Kosovo and those in the rest of Kosovo to consider the obligations that the previous Serbian Democrat-led government undertook.
This should happen “while at the same time preserving our national interests and continuing the process of European integration”, he said.
Vucic added that Serbia was concerned about the possible development of events after the Appeal Court of the Hague Tribunal delivers its verdict on Thursday on the former Kosovo Liberation Army commander and former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj.
He also noted the marking of Albanian Flag Day, which is currently underway, and said Serbia “will do everything to ensure these events pass off peacefully and within a democratic framework”.
He was speaking of the centenary celebrations of the Albanian state, which ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia have also been marking.
Speaking of his counterparts in Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, which Serbia does not recognise, the minister said that it was necessary “for the other side to invest the same effort.
“A lot of what is important for Serbia will happen in the next two weeks,” he explained.
“Our job is to try to do the most we can for our country and the people and lose the least of what we have. That, I would say, is the best definition of our job,” Vucic stated.
The minister added that through its diplomatic activities, Serbia was trying to gain the support of the EU, Russia and the United States to reach “a reasonable solution” over Kosovo.
He specified that such a solution would be an agreement that envisages concessions from both sides, rather than just from Belgrade.
Vucic declined to give any details about his upcoming meeting with the Deputy Assistant US Secretary of State, Philip Reeker.
Reeker “does not like being out in public with details of talks, unless there was an agreement with the interlocutor”, he noted.
Kosovo’s head of dialogue with Serbia, Edita Tahiri, said Belgrade had made a step towards recognising Kosovo’s independence following the recent agreement on customs stamps.
Police arrested more than 30 activists of the nationalist Self-determination movement on Saturday, including two MPs, protesting against a customs agreement reached in Brussels between Belgrade and Pristina.
Belgrade and Pristina have agreed to a wording for Kosovo customs stamp which will allow the former province to export to Serbia for the first time since it declared independence in February 2008.
The import embargo imposed in July is causing significant hurt to businesses in Serbia, according to the country's Chamber of Commerce.
Hopes are high that Belgrade and Pristina will on Friday accept an EU-worded compromise formula on the vexed issue of Kosovo custom stamps.
The European Union police operation, EULEX, has seized several weapons in the northern part of Kosovo in an investigation into the murder of Kosovo policeman Enver Zumberi.
UN Security Council members have called for restraint and urged the resumption of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
Serbia's President and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are expected to resume dialogue on Kosovo this after last week's public spat on Serbia's role in its former province.
Serbian President Boris Tadic has refused to comply with Angela Merkel’s request that Serbia abandons its institutions in northern Kosovo in order to progress towards EU accession.
A group calling itself the Armed Forces of Ethnic Albania, FASHE, has reportedly ordered Kosovo’s government to set up an army by the end of September, or warned it will carry out armed actions in the north of the country.
Kosovo's authority will be introduced to Serb-run northern Kosovo in three stages, BIRN can reveal, as Kosovo Serb leaders warn the EU-backed plan may prompt them to emigrate.