European Union High Representative Josep Borrell told (31.01) in Belgrade that the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue must be renewed and that he would appoint a special representative to work on the issue permanently.
“Renewed for sure. Until now the dialogue has not been very positive and in the end, there was a rift … There are still many wounds to be healed and there is a lot of effort to find a solid foundation for peace and solidarity” he said and cited the example of France and Germany who fought wars and now live in peace. “The EU is about reconciliation and peace and we have given the best example in history of people who were fighting and now they live in peace… I think this is something that the Balkans also have to do”, Borrell said and added that the EU would be happy to help all Western Balkans countries to follow this example.
Asked about the obstacles between Belgrade and Pristina, Borrell said that there are many of them. “All the parties have to make an effort in order to accept changes. The mediator is not the one who dictates the final result, just the one who tries to bring both parties together and create positive dialogue. I think we need to nominate a special representative because this will require permanent work not one weekend and then let’s see next month. It requires also, not only political skill but technical capacity, mutual trust and overall the will to reach a solution”.
He said that he wanted to visit Kosovo and Serbia to show the importance of resuming dialogue to normalize relations “because this is strongly needed on their way to the EU”. Borrell warned that the European prospects of both Serbia and Kosovo are strongly conditioned by the problem of Kosovo. “The EU is just a mediator … the negotiations will be led by Belgrade and Pristina but I think the EU has to be more involved”.
“I’ll do my best and I will be involved in the process because the Western Balkans are not something strange to our history and culture. They are part of Europe and their success will be our success. Their security and stability will contribute to our security and stability”, he said.
Borrell added that the EU is investing a lot in the region, not just financially. “This is the less important thing. The most important thing for us is to guarantee stability, democracy and prosperity. If this happens in the Western Balkans this would be good for all of us”, the EU High Representative said.
He warned also for the upcoming difficulties due to migration from the region. “Many people are leaving these countries, the population is decreasing and if this continues there will be tremendous difficulties. I think we need realism to face the challenge with a will to solving this problem. This can be solved, it should be solved, we need to solve it and I will be very much engaged personally”, he said but added that he would name a special representative because he has to deal with many other issues.
Asked about his meeting with part of the opposition which was not attended by the Alliance for Serbia that advocates a boycott of the coming elections, Borrell said the EU does not want to interfere in the internal issues of countries. “This is an internal issue, but we have been talking about it with the government and opposition and I told them that from the European point of view there is no wisdom in boycotting the elections. I encourage both parties to talk and find an agreement on the framework of the Venice Convention and to solve the issues and show that in Serbia you have a democracy that fulfills the highest standards of the election process”, he said.
The High Representative said that for the EU freedom of media and expression are very important as well as defending the diversity of sources of information. “Everything that goes in the direction of limiting freedom of expression is against our principles and the way we understand political life. We support everything that goes in the direction of freedom of expression and plurality of opinions in the media”, he added.