Belgrade and Pristina to exchange ‘ambassadors’

Ivica Da?i? and Hashim Tha?i, the prime ministers of Serbia and Kosovo, are due to meet today (19 February) under the auspices of EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, to continue discussions on their future relations and to exchange envoys. EURACTIV Germany reports.

The two leaders are expected to negotiate the details of "liaison offices" in their capitals as the result of an agreement that was signed previously.

Although the two envoys will not be officially called ‘ambassadors’, the move is seen as positive and highly symbolic since Serbia doesn’t recognise its former province as an independent country.

Lulzim Pe?i, a 46-year-old Kosovo ambassador currently accredited for Sweden and Norway, is expected to take office in March. His office will be located at the EU Delegation house in Belgrade.

Dejan Pavi?evi?, one of the leading persons during the dialogue process between the countries, is the designed Serbian representative. The 33-year-old lawyer will move into an office at the European Commission liaison building in Pristina.

The status of the two national representatives hasn’t been clarified yet. Kosovo considers its representative a diplomat, while Serbia regards its own a contact officer.

Their exact status could be clarified by the two prime ministers over their meeting later today. Kosovo is pressing for formal recognition by Serbia and the normalisation of bilateral relations, for which the establishment of diplomatic relations is a necessary prerequisite.

Currently Kosovo maintains 21 embassies, 17 consulates with three diplomatic missions that were opened last year. Three more are planned this year.

Background

Kosovo seceded from Serbia on 17 February 2008, nine years after the end of the 1998-1999 war between Belgrade's security forces and ethnic Albanian guerrillas. In the following years, Kosovo became an international protectorate patrolled by NATO peacekeepers. 

After Kosovo declared independence, the 2-million-strong republic, 90% of whose population is ethnic Albanian, established many of the trappings of statehood, including a new constitution, army, national anthem, flag, passports, identity cards and an intelligence agency. 

Most EU countries - except Spain, Greece, Romania, Cyprus and Slovakia - have recognised the independence of Kosovo.

Further Reading