RFE: Lajcak, Escobar had difficult talks with Kurti, EU measures to follow


European Union (EU) member states have hinted at “symbolic” measures against Pristina after EU and US envoys submitted a report in which they described their talks with the Kosovo Prime Minister on de-escalating the situation in northern Kosovo as “difficult.”

EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue Miroslav Lajcak’s office submitted a report to EU member states on his visit to Pristina and Belgrade this week on which he was accompanied by US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar.

Several sources confirmed for Radio Free Europe (RFE) that the one immediate measure that could be taken against the Kosovo authorities in the near future because of their failure to take steps towards de-escalation is the canceling of the European Commission – Kosovo meeting in a subcommittee within the Stabilization and Association Agreement.

The possible cancellation of this meeting would be a way to express Brussels’ dissatisfaction with Pristina’s failure to comply with international demands related to the de-escalation of the situation in northern Kosovo.

In the report, EU and US envoys described the talks with Kosovo Prime Minsiter Albin Kurti as “difficult.”

Lajcak and Escobar informed Kurti about the international community’s demands, which include the withdrawal of the special police forces and newly-elected mayors from the municipal administration buildings in the north of Kosovo, and the calling of new local elections in four municipalities in northern Kosovo.

According to diplomatic sources, Kurti expressed readiness to continue talks on measures for de-escalation, but “hesitated to confirm his readiness” to immediately withdraw the special police forces.

On the other hand, when reporting to representatives of EU member states, representatives of Lajcak’s office said that, during talks in Belgrade, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said he was prepared to talk the local Kosovo Serbs into participating in the elections “but under certain conditions.”

Several diplomatic sources confirmed for RFE that halting the visa liberalization process is not being considered as a measure against Pristina.

RFE learns that most EU member states are of the opinion that this move would be counterproductive and directed against the citizens of Kosovo rather than against those whose actions do not meet EU’s expectations.

Sources told RFE that the possibility of freezing some EU programs for Kosovo was also discussed, but that it was not supported by most member states.