"We do not recognize independence": what Serbia and Kosovo having talks about

04.09.2020

Serbia and Kosovo are planning to sign an agreement at the White House on September 4, the US presidential administration said.  The nature of the agreements was not disclosed, but earlier it was said that at the talks Pristina and Belgrade would discuss economic issues.  Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during this dialogue firmly refused to recognize Kosovo and assured that he would never sign such a document.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister of unrecognized Kosovo Avdulah Hoti plan on September 4 to take part in the signing ceremony at the White House in the presence of American leader Donald Trump, according to the US President's Friday schedule circulated by the White House.

"At 11:05 President [Trump] is going watch the signing ceremony with the participation of the President of the Republic of Serbia and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo," the document says.

The details of the agreement were not disclosed, but earlier the Serbian leader expressed hope for reaching agreements in the economic sphere with Kosovo by the morning of September 4.

The ceremony, announced by the White House, will take place in the presence of a limited pool of presidential administration journalists in the so-called Roosevelt room.  It is located in the West Wing of the official residence of the head of state.  Thereafter, Trump, Vucic and Hoti will take part in trilateral talks in the Oval Office.

The Serbian President said earlier that his country's delegation refused to recognize the independence of Kosovo during negotiations in Washington.  “We were offered a document that we had not seen and that should not be disclosed, this document was very difficult for us, it contained 16 points, one of which related to mutual recognition.  I said that such a document is unacceptable for us <...> This will no longer be an object of discussion, Serbia will not consider anything like that, ”Vucic said on TV Pink.

According to the head of state, during the meeting, they discussed the economy, infrastructure projects linking Belgrade and Pristina, loans through development agencies and the opening of the office of the American Development Fund in Belgrade.  In addition, the issue of including Pristina under American guarantees in the Balkan Economic Union - the so-called small Schengen - was brought up for discussion.

The Serbian President drew attention to the fact that the meeting also discussed "restoring trust and confidence between Serbs and Albanians."

The negotiations were attended by representatives of American state corporations that assist in reducing poverty through economic growth and investing in development, as well as the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a specialized agency of the United States government that supports national businesses in entering foreign markets.

“At some point, [Adviser to the US President] Ivanka Trump, [Assistant to the US President for National Security] Robert O'Brien joined the negotiations for a short time, with whom we then had a separate meeting.  Nobody can confirm whether there will be an agreement and a summit meeting, ”the Serbian leader said.

According to him, the negotiations were "not easy", during the meeting three documents were discussed.

He assured his fellow citizens that he would not sign any document recognizing Kosovo's independence.
Vucic has previously expressed concerns about a meeting on the unrecognized Kosovo issue in Washington.  According to the Kosovars, it was planned to demand from the Serbian leader to sign the recognition of the independence of the Serbian autonomous region.  But the head of Serbia was determined to defend the interests of his country decisively.

The Serbian newspaper Vechernie Novosti previously wrote that Vucic will be in the United States from September 3 to 5, where he will take part in negotiations on economic cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina, organized by the White House.
As reported by the publication, special adviser to US President Donald Trump Richard Grenelle said that on September 3, at a meeting in Washington, "only economic issues" will be discussed.

At the same time, he admitted that other topics could be raised in the future.

The Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija unilaterally declared their independence in February 2008.  More than 60 countries refuse to recognize Kosovo, including Russia, Israel, India, China and five states of the European Union.