Hill: Serbia chose to go West, relations with Russia weakening by the day

NEWS 01.02.2023 21:36

It is important that the Serbian side has been very constructive in terms of engaging on the European plan with Kosovo and ultimately that will affect the pace by which Serbia moves toward the West, said US Ambassador to Serbia Christopher Hill.

Serbia has already made a choice to go West and I think for many Serbs it has been very frustrating that the process is taking so long, Ambassador Hill said on the Behind the News talk show.

“I hope that the result of all this will be a much better pace, a faster pace (of European integration),” said Hill.

Asked why the European proposal is a secret, he said he would not call it a secret, but something in traditional diplomatic channels.

“If you try to do diplomacy in the newspapers or even on television, you run into a lot of misunderstandings,” he said, adding he thinks it is better to discuss such matters across the table.

Asked if Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic would “cross the line” by releasing the proposal at the upcoming Parliament session, Hill said that was a “hypothetical question” but that a big discussion on the issue of Kosovo in the Parliament is needed.

“I think it is appropriate to have this discussion but I will leave it to others to decide what needs to be released and what does not,” said the Ambassador.

He said that Serbia “had held onto its sanctions policy even longer that the Russian Army, or whatever we want to call it, has held onto Kherson.”

“The issue of Serbia’s relations with Russia – you can see them weakening by the day. You can see much more interest in working with the European Union and, frankly, more interest in working with us,” said Hill.

He reiterated the US government’s stance that Serbia should join the sanctions against Russia, but added that it is not true that Serbia has not done anything because it has condemned Russia’s aggression on Ukraine.

Asked if Belgrade’s position in negotiations with Pristina is weaker because it has not imposed sanctions on Russia, the Ambassador said these are different issues.

Asked whether Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti or Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is more cooperative, the Ambassador laughed.

“If I thought that answering that question would help the negotiating process I would answer it, but I will leave that up to your imagination,” he said.

Hill said the main issue stemming from the Brussels Agreement has to do with the Community of Serb Municipalities.

“So I think there is some urgency getting that agreed, getting everyone to understand that once you accept something in an international agreement you have to fulfill it,” said Hill.

The Ambassador declined to comment on press “leaks,” but said that the international negotiators’ position “has been very clearly conveyed in Belgrade and in Pristina.”