EU warns Serbia, Kosovo about moving embassies to Jerusalem

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Source: N1

The European Union warned Serbia and Kosovo on Monday that they could undermine their EU membership hopes by moving their Israeli embassies to Jerusalem, as US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement about the change left officials in Belgrade and Pristina scrambling to limit the political fallout, the AP reported on Monday.

The agency said that the EU was surprised that Serbia agreed to move its embassy to Jerusalem in a deal brokered by the Trump administration which included Israel recognizing Kosovo. “Serbian officials appeared to be watering down their commitment to Trump, and Kosovo sought to allay concerns among Muslim countries,” it said.

“In Belgrade, Serbian officials appeared to be stepping back from the embassy pledge, with Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic saying the final decision will still have to be discussed by the government and will depend on “a number of factors” including future development of ties with Israel. Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, meanwhile, was on the phone with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, trying to assuage fears about the decision to recognize Israel expressed by Turkey and the Arab League group of countries. “Such a recognition will not violate under any circumstances the strategic, friendly and fraternal partnership with Turkey,” Thaci said after the conversation.

“There is no EU member state with an embassy in Jerusalem. Any diplomatic steps that could call into question the EU’s common position on Jerusalem are a matter of serious concern and regret,” European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said.

“Stano, speaking as Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minster Avdullah Hoti were holding a new round of talks in Brussels on normalizing their relations, said the EU was told in advance only about the economic aspects of the White House event, not about movements in Jerusalem. Vucic and Hoti recommitted to the European track, saying “that they attach the highest priority to EU integration and to continuing the work on the EU-facilitated Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue.” In what was described as a “joint statement” issued by the office of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Vucic and Hoti also said they “committed to redoubling their efforts to ensure further EU alignment in accordance with their respective obligations.”  

They appeared to play down Friday’s announcement, by saying that “the recently agreed documents in Washington, D.C., building on previous Dialogue-related commitments undertaken by the two parties, could provide a useful contribution to reaching a comprehensive, legally binding agreement on normalization of relations,” AP said.