Serbia has been given an ultimatum from powerful Western nations to normalize ties with Kosovo or face measures that would do “great damage” to the country, the president said Monday.
President Aleksandar Vucic said he had been presented a proposal, as part of a Western push to solve long-simmering tensions with Kosovo, during a meeting last week with representatives of the European Union, United States, France, Germany, and Italy.
“(They) said — you must accept this plan, or you will face the interruption of the process of European integration, the halting and withdrawal of investments and comprehensive economic and political measures that will cause great damage to the Republic of Serbia,” Vucic said.
Speaking during a televised press conference, Vucic said Serbia’s parliament would have to discuss the proposal, and hinted at a possible referendum.
He did not give any details of what the proposal entails, but underlined that without the EU, Serbia would become “isolated.”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday that the meetings in Kosovo and Serbia had focused on “discussions on the proposal on normalisation of relations. We stressed that advancing on this Proposal would bring considerable benefits for both sides.”
Serbia has been a candidate to join the European union for over a decade, and normalizing ties with Kosovo has been a key condition to advance its application.
“Serbia must remain on its EU path … Because we would be lost without it, economically and politically. If we were to be alone and isolated, that is not something I would accept as a president,” Vucic said.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, after a bloody war in the late 1990s between an ethnic Albanian insurgency and Serbia forces.
Belgrade and its key allies Russia and China refused to recognize the move, effectively denying Pristina a seat at the United Nations.
Serbia has often drifted from Brussels’ foreign policy line, most recently when Belgrade refused to sanction Moscow after the invasion of Ukraine. However, it has condemned Moscow’s aggression at the UN.
Vucic said he believes that the pressure to resolve the Kosovo issue is a result of “changed geopolitical circumstances.”
“They (the West) have their own agenda, which is Russia’s defeat, and everything that stands in the way of that agenda will be crushed,” Vucic said.