The Russian foreign minister called out the bloc over events in in the breakaway Serbian province
The European Union has utterly failed to enforce its 2013 agreement guaranteeing the rights of Serbs in Kosovo and is allowing the ethnic Albanian government to do as it pleases, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Thursday.
Lavrov spoke at a press conference in Moscow about the work of Russian diplomacy in 2023; a question came up about Kosovo’s newly announced ban on the use of the Serbian currency, scheduled to take effect on February 1.
The EU “should be ashamed” of the situation in Kosovo, Lavrov said, reminding reporters that in 2013 the bloc mediated the ‘Brussels Agreement’ between Belgrade and Pristina, envisioning the establishment of a Community of Serb Municipalities and specifying their rights.
“It’s been over ten years and nothing has changed, the deal which the EU claimed as its greatest diplomatic achievement has gone nowhere, and the EU can’t do anything about it,” Lavrov said.
If anything, Brussels is now “changing the existing agreements” to favor Pristina, so that “the Serbs would have no rights, or have entirely artificial rights, while the real power rests with the Albanians,” he added.
NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days in 1999 on behalf of ethnic Albanian separatists and subsequently took control of Kosovo as part of a UN-approved “peacekeeping mission.” The province’s provisional government declared independence in 2008, which Serbia has refused to recognize.
After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Pristina government began a crackdown on ethnic Serbs. The ethnic Albanian government’s latest move has been this week’s announcement of the ban on the use of Serbian dinars.
“[Ethnic Albanian prime minister Albin] Kurti wants to block us from paying salaries and pensions to our teachers, doctors and officials, which would result in an open exodus of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday, while attending the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Vucic has asked Brussels to support the Serb community, to which the EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak said the bloc will respond “soon,” after its specialists finish analyzing the situation, RT Balkans has reported.
The local Serbs now fear that heavily armed ethnic Albanian police will start raiding their shops and markets to seize goods and “contraband” money. A major Slovenian-owned bank has already announced it would close by the end of January, while it’s unclear whether the Serbian postal bank will be allowed to stay open.
“This is a direct attack on our existence,” one local resident told RT Balkans, requesting anonymity for security reasons. “God only knows what happens after February 1.”
January 18, 2024 at 11:15PM