Serbia scores victory as Interpol rejects Kosovo membership

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Foreign Ministar Ivica Dačić address a press conference in Belgrade on 20 November 2018. [BETAPHOTO/MILAN BRADOVIC/MO]

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Tuesday (20 November) that the rejection of Kosovo’s Interpol membership application was a success of Serbia, “a small, defiant and proud country”. EURACTIV Serbia reports.

Vučić urged Serbs not to feel euphoric and told the Kosovo Albanians ‘not to perceive the outcome of the Interpol General Assembly vote as a debacle or a great defeat’, but rather as a sobering event.

After two rounds of voting, 68 member countries voted in favour of admitting Kosovo, 51 were against and 16 abstained, so that the former Serbian province failed to get the required two-thirds support of the member states.

In 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia but Belgrade does not recognise it and five EU member states – Spain, Romania, Greece, Cyprus, and Slovakia – do not either.

At a press conference with Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić called after the news came in from Dubai that Kosovo would not become a member of Interpol, Vučić said the results exceeded expectations.

“I’m proud of my country’s struggle, that a small country, without a lot of money and power in the world, has managed to hold its own against the most powerful forces of the world and demonstrate how valuable it is to preserve one’s freedom, integrity and independence,” Vučić said.

The Serbian president also said Belgrade would continue to insist on a compromise with Pristina. Reaching a comprehensive agreement between Belgrade and Pristina is one of the conditions for Serbia’s progress towards EU membership. Serbia is a candidate country and has so far opened 14 of the 35 negotiating chapters.

Dačić called the rejection of Kosovo’s application a great victory for Serbia and proof that nothing could be solved by force and without an agreement with Belgrade.

‘They lacked 36 votes. Not even (Austrian Chancellor Sebastian) Kurz managed to help them,” Dačić said.

He noted that the position of the Austrian chancellor, whose country currently presides over the EU, was inconsistent because he had not agreed on a visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens but wanted Kosovo to join Interpol.

Dačić also said the decision of the Interpol General Assembly was a victory of international law and showed that Pristina had to go back to dialogue and solve mutual problems together with Belgrade.

Kosovo-Serbia talks break down as tensions mount again

The latest round of EU-sponsored Kosovo-Serbia talks effectively collapsed on Friday (7 September) as Serbia’s president refused to sit down with his Kosovo counterpart, citing a ban by Kosovar authorities on his planned visit to the former Serbian province as a reason to reassess all relations with Pristina.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said that the failure of Kosovo’s admission was a victory for organised crime and that both Kosovo and Serbia were the losers.

‘The vote was secret, but the possibility that the states which had recognised Kosovo voted against its membership is bad news, on the other hand, the states that do not recognise Kosovo’s independence voted in favour of the membership’, said Thaci.

Belgrade and Pristina are engaged in dialogue on normalising relations, supervised by the EU’s diplomacy chief Federica Mogherini. The dialogue is currently at an impasse and, according to Vučić, will not resume until Kosovo has lifted the trade barriers it has imposed on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina contrary to CEFTA (Central European Free Trade Association) rules.

Dragan Djukanovic, president of the Centre for Foreign Policy think tank, said the rejection of Kosovo’s Interpol application would help bring Pristina back to the negotiating table with Belgrade in Brussels.

He told Beta News Agency that Pristina could be seen as ‘a long-term loser’ where its applications for membership of UNESCO and the U.N. were concerned.

“Apparently, the number of those voting for Kosovo’s membership in certain international organisations does not correspond to the number of recognitions they have,” he added.

Kosovo has so far applied for membership of the global police organisation three times – in 2010, 2015 and 2017, when its Premier Ramush Haradinaj withdrew the application a week before the General Assembly due to insufficient support.

The Interpol General Assembly comprises delegates appointed by the governments of the member states. It convenes once a year and takes all the important decisions pertaining to general policy, the resources needed for international cooperation, working methods, financing, and activity programme, as well as to the admission of new members.

Interpol has 192 members, and of all the internationally recognised states, only North Korea and several Pacific states are not members. Certain territories with controversial statehood, such as Northern Cyprus, Taiwan, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, are not members either.

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