Serbia won’t move embassy if Israel recognizes Kosovo

Serbia’s agreement said that they would also open an embassy in Jerusalem. Earlier this year, Belgrade announced that it would open a trade office in the capital

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic addresses the nation after riots overnight in the capital, in Belgrade, Serbia, July 8, 2020. (photo credit: MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS)
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic addresses the nation after riots overnight in the capital, in Belgrade, Serbia, July 8, 2020.
(photo credit: MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS)
Israeli recognition of Kosovo as an independent country will strain relations with Serbia, despite it being in the framework of agreements the Balkan countries signed in the White House, a source close to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“Serbia will not move its embassy to Jerusalem if Israel recognizes Kosovo as an independent country,” according to the source, who has close knowledge of the agreements signed in Washington. “Moreover, 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.”
The source added that “many have argued that Israel recognizing Kosovo would be akin to countries unilaterally recognizing ‘Palestine.’”
The Foreign Ministry’s response called Kosovo a country.
“We see the decision of Serbia and Kosovo to open embassies in Jerusalem as a symbolic step to promote peace between those countries,” ministry spokesman Lior Haiat stated. “Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, will be a bridge to peace for the entire world. I call on other countries to follow their path and move their embassies to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.”
Haiat also said the ministry values the relations with Serbia that have flourished under Vucic, and expressed hope that they will continue to grow.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade considers it to be an autonomous zone. Israel did not recognize Kosovo for over a decade, out of concern for damaging strong ties with Serbia and for setting a precedent for recognition of a Palestinian state.
Serbia and Kosovo signed separate agreements with the US at the same time, sitting on opposite sides of US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Friday. The agreements would allow for greater economic ties between the countries. Critics have said that the content of the agreements does not progress Serbia-Kosovo ties, and consists of actions already pledged to be taken in EU-mediated talks.
In addition, the agreement with Kosovo stated that Israel would normalize ties with the Muslim-majority country, which would open an embassy in Jerusalem.
Serbia’s agreement said that it, too, would open an embassy in Jerusalem.
A statement from Vucic’s office said there was a “big fight” between the president and American negotiators last week over Israeli recognition of Kosovo.
“They thought we should call on Israel to recognize Kosovo, and we said we couldn’t because it undermines our policy. We said that if Israel and Pristina agree on that – fine,” Vucic said. “We also told Israel that if they respect Serbia, then our country will move the embassy to Jerusalem.”
“Respect Serbia” could mean nonrecognition of Kosovo.
Earlier this year, Serbia announced that it would open a trade office in the capital and has a delegation in Israel this week to that end.
Serbia and Kosovo both seek to join the European Union, and Serbia has already begun negotiations on the matter.
An EU spokesman said on Monday, regarding the agreements, that “any diplomatic steps that could call into question the EU’s common position on Jerusalem are a matter of serious concern and regret.”


Tags serbia kosovo