At the start of his trip to the Balkans, Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for Serbia to recognize Kosovo – and in so doing aroused the wrath of Belgrade.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) caused outrage in Belgrade with statements about the recognition of Kosovo. “So you can understand: We don’t react to pressure in this way, where someone threatens us and then you have to do something,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Friday after meeting with Scholz in Belgrade. From the EU he “heard for the first time today that mutual recognition is required”.
During his visit to Pristina in the morning, Scholz said about the efforts of Kosovo and Serbia to join the EU: “An agreement must ultimately also clarify the issue of recognizing Kosovo; because it is inconceivable that two countries that mutually not recognise, become members of the EU.”
Olaf Scholz wants the Western Balkans to join the EU
At the joint press conference with the Serbian President, Scholz reacted calmly to Vučić’s outrage. He “said something that is obvious. Maybe that will help.”
Serbia, which regards Kosovo as a breakaway province, “also wants territorial integrity” like Ukraine, Vučić said. “Nevertheless, we are ready to talk about compromise solutions.” Serbia “never gave up the dialogue”. “If you think you have to threaten us… we don’t mind. Do your job, we’ll do ours.”
Scholz stressed that his goal was for the Western Balkan countries to join the EU. “Not just in the very distant future, but as soon as possible.” It would be “very good if this is pushed forward with great courage”.
The conflict between Serbia and Kosovo has not been resolved for years and is hampering the prospects of both Balkan countries joining the EU. The government in Belgrade does not recognize the former southern Serbian province of Kosovo as an independent state.
Scholz continues his Balkan trip this Saturday in North Macedonia and Bulgaria. It will be about the dispute between the two countries about North Macedonia’s accession to the EU. EU member Bulgaria has blocked this for years.