Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State; Kosovo Ministry of Finance
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić (L) and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti

A source close to Serb President Aleksandar Vučić told Jerusalem Post reporter Lahav Harkov on Wednesday that “Serbia will not move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognizes Kosovo as an independent country,” and that “this move by Israel would harm the otherwise intimate relationship between Israel and Serbia and it will never be the same. It’s that simple (Serbia won’t move embassy if Israel recognizes Kosovo).”

Harkov cited the Serb source as saying that “Israel recognizing Kosovo would be akin to countries unilaterally recognizing ‘Palestine.’”

Advertisement



Serbia strongly opposed Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008 and recalled its ambassadors from all the countries which recognized it. The Serbian Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant against three leading Kosovo politicians, Hashim Thaçi, Fatmir Sejdiu and Jakup Krasniqi, on charges of high treason. In March 2008, the Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica resigned, dissolving the coalition government and forcing new elections. Conflicts between the two countries continued until April 19, 2013, when the two governments completed the Brussels Agreement that allowed both Serbia and Kosovo to seek integration by the EU.

In late 2014, Kosovo–Serbia negotiations reached a standstill after the newly elected government in Kosovo advanced a more hardline approach towards Serbia. This was made even more difficult after Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic declared in december 2014 that any decision on Kosovo must be submitted to a referendum in Serbia.

In August 2015, after Kosovo and Serbia signed agreements in key areas in an effort to normalize relations, Kosovo’s foreign minister claimed it was a de facto recognition of his country’s independence, while Serbia’s prime minister insisted the whole deal was about protecting the rights of ethnic-Serbs in Kosovo. There’s more: even though the Serbs have been pressed by the EU to recognize Kosovo’s right to join the union, the Serbian government still opposes any attempt on the part of Kosovo to join the UN, and Serbia is protesting the move to allow Kosovo to join UNESCO.

The parallels to Israel’s international troubles with the Palestinian Authority are glaring, naturally, and the Serbs, who consider themselves old friends of Israel and the Jews, feel betrayed by Israel’s embrace of President Donald Trump’s move to have both rival countries open their embassies in Jerusalem. And while the Serbs are likely hesitant to confront the US president on this issue, they are attempting an end run here, by conveying to an Israeli reporter just how unhappy this makes them.

Advertisement