Lajcak did invite Belgrade, Pristina for meeting on dinar: “Bislimi’s accusations unacceptable”

Armend Nimani/AFP

European Union (EU) spokesperson Peter Stano confirmed for N1 that EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak has sent an invitation to Belgrade and Pristina for a meeting on the Central Bank of Kosovo decision to ban the use of the Serbian dinar.

In a written statement for N1 Stano recalled that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell discussed the issue with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Munich last weekend.

“In follow-up to these meetings, EU Special Representative Lajcak has invited the two Parties to come to Brussels on Tuesday February 27,” said Stano.

Kosovo’s deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi on Wednesday said that an invitation to a Kosovo-Serbia meeting next week on the dinar ban had come from Brussels, but that he will not be attending, because the issue of the dinar “is not part of the (Belgrade-Pristina) dialogue.”

In connection with this, Stano said the EU usually does not comment on correspondence with partners, but noted that the invitation letter from the Lajcak did not specify who should represent Kosovo and Serbia – it was left to the parties.

“In other words, the EU is trying to help find a solution to a problem created by an uncoordinated decision of one side, which was not communicated to the affected population in advance. We hope Mr. Bislimi would appreciate the effort instead of inappropriately and baselessly accusing EU officials. Such behaviour is unacceptable,” Stano emphasized.

The spokesperson said that the decision of the Central Bank of Kosovo, which he said aimed to enhance the transparency of financial flows, to ensure financial stability and to combat money laundering and counterfeiting, however also seriously affected the Kosovo Serb population and other communities throughout Kosovo, in particular the financial support they receive from Serbia.

“The absence of prior consultations means that there are no alternatives at this moment and there is in particular negative impact on schools and hospitals,” cautioned Stano.

The Central Bank of Kosovo adopted a regulation on cash transactions making the euro the sole currency in Kosovo thus effectively banning the Serbian dinar. The regulation, which came into effect on February 1, has also been criticized by other western countries, calling on Kosovo to delay its implementation.

Members of the Serb community in Kosovo receive their incomes and other payments from the Serbian budget, and the international community has warned that Kosovo’s decision to ban the use of the dinar could also heighten ethnic tensions.

Stano told N1 that the EU and its member states were very clear in their reaction to this Pristina’s “counterproductive decision,” adding that this issue should be dealt with within the framework of the Dialogue.

“Finally, we would like to repeat once again that the Dialogue is the sole platform to find comprehensive and sustainable solutions to issues between Kosovo and Serbia. This has been repeated by the EU, its Member States and other international partners on countless occasions,” he said.

Unconstructive attitude by the Kosovo authorities, failure and lack of engagement only further distance Kosovo from its European perspective, Stano said.