BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia’s president on Friday said that European Union-mediated negotiations on normalizing relations with Kosovo, which stalled last year, will resume within days.
Aleksandar Vucic did not specify the date but said “dialogue will continue within a very short period of time.
“We are talking about days, not weeks,” said Vucic. ”We are always ready to talk. Serbia does not want a frozen conflict.”
Vucic spoke after U.S. and EU envoys visited this week both Serbia and Kosovo as part of efforts to help resolve a long-standing problem that remains a source of tension in the Balkans years after the wars of the 1990s.
Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared independence in 2008, which Serbia does not recognize. The United States and most EU countries have recognized Kosovo’s statehood while Serbia has the support of Russia and China.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer and the EU envoy for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak, met with Vucic on Thursday in Belgrade after visiting Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, earlier in the week.
Both Washington and Brussels have clearly said that normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is essential for their further integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Serbia and Kosovo are both seeking EU entry and Kosovo aims at NATO membership too.
Kosovo’s declaration of independence followed a 1998-99 conflict between separatist ethnic Albanian rebels and Serb forces. The war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign that drove Serb troops out, and a peacekeeping force moved in.
Vucic reiterated Serbia’s position that any future solution for the Serbia-Kosovo dispute must be a compromise.
“We are always ready to talk about compromise solutions but we are never ready to talk about humiliating Serbia,” he said.