EU says ICC and its prosecutor ‘are independent and impartial judicial institutions with no political objectives to pursue’
Already last September, the EU warned Serbia against moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem following a high-profile summit with former President Donald Trump at the White House where Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed statements agreeing measures to improve economic relations – and in Serbia’s case pledging to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Kosovo, a Muslim-majority former province of Serbia that became independent in 2008, established diplomatic relations with Israel on Monday during an online ceremony due to the coronavirus crisis, writes Yossi Lempkowicz.
The ceremony ended with the unveiling of a sign that will hang at the entrance to the future Kosovar embassy in Jerusalem.
Kosovo indeed also agreed to open its embassy in Jerusalem, becoming the third nation to do so after the United States and Guatemala.
Pristina’s move doesn’t please the EU. At a daily briefing of the European Commission, the EU regretted the decision. “This decision is diverging Kosovo from the EU position on Jerusalem,” EU spokesperson for foreign affairs Peter Stano told reporters, pointing out that all embassies of the EU countries in Israel, as well as the EU delegation, are located in Tel Aviv, based on the corresponding UN Security Council resolutions and European Council decisions.
Stano added that the final status of Jerusalem as a future capital of both states has to be found through negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
No accession if the Kosovo embassy is in Jerusalem
Peter Stano added that Kosovo “has identified EU integration as its strategic priority and is expected to act in line with this commitment”. He said it was logical that the EU would expect Kosovo to progress on its EU accession path by aligning with EU policies and principles. He added that from 2008 to 2020, the EU has spent €2 billion in helping Kosovo to develop.
A journalist from Kosovo asked what gave the EU the right to ask Kosovo to get in the ranks while it is not recognized by five EU member states – Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain – as an independent country – and therefore cannot become an EU candidate.
Already last September, the EU warned Serbia against moving its Israel embassy to Jerusalem following a high-profile summit with former President Donald Trump at the White House where Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed statements agreeing measures to improve economic relations – and in Serbia’s case pledging to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
At Tuesday’s briefing, Peter Stano noted that since the September announcement Serbia had not made any concrete move regarding its embassy in Israel.
In another development, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic said Tuesday the government was “not happy” with Israel’s decision to recognize Kosovo.
“We have invested serious efforts in our relations with Israel in recent years and we are not happy with this decision,” the minister said on Serbia’s public broadcaster RTS.
Israel’s move will “undoubtedly influence relations between Serbia and Israel”, he added.
Until Monday’s signing ceremony, Kosovo had refused to recognize Israel while Israel refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence. All this changed when Trump and the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia signed a bilateral agreement last September.
The EU is hosting talks between Serbia and Kosovo on improving diplomatic relations between the two Balkan neighbours.