Vucic to request Russia's support over Kosovo escalation

Serbian president describes meeting with Putin is one of the most important moments in recent years

Photo: EPA Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic arrived in Moscow on Tuesday for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, to discuss how to push forward a deal with Kosovo after a plan to rework their borders faced international resistance. The negotiations will be held amid the growing tensions around Kosovo and their agenda will include a broad range of issues. Yet, The situation with Kosovo is expected "to be the priority” in talks with Putin.

Vucic is currently seeking broad international support from the EU and the US to mend relations with Kosovo - a precondition for both neighbors in their aspirations to join the EU in the next decade. Vucic’s proposal for a deal that would allow ethnic Serbs and ethnic Albanians to live where their kin form majorities in a possible land swap, was rejected by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other EU leaders fearing it may re-ignite tensions that led to Europe’s bloodiest conflict since World War II.

The meeting also comes a few days after more than one hundred Kosovo commandos intruded into Kosovo’s Serbian enclaves in the north of the territory, which is prohibited under international treaties. The commandos took positions around Gazivoda Lake, put under control the Gazivoda hydropower plant and intruded into the Ecology and Development Center in Zubin Potok. According to the director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric, this was done to ensure security of leader of the self-proclaimed Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, during his visit to the region’s north.

At the same time employees of the Kosovo power structures detained “Serbs who have not committed any offences.” In response, the Serbian president put the country’s armed forces and special police units on high alert and voiced protest to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Vucic then told reporters he plans to discuss this situation at his meeting with the Russian leader on 2 October. "We will be speaking about the issues of concern for Serbia, therefore the situation in Kosovo and Metohija will be definitely the focus [of the talks]," Vucic said. "We will inform Putin of the latest developments and will ask for his support at all international forums. We will ask him for advice, no doubt."

Asked by reporters if he, like Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, would request Russia for military assistance, Vucic vowed he would do his utmost to preserve peace in the region.

"I would prefer Serbia - with all our respect and love for Syria and its people - to be a peaceful country, a country with developed economy, a country of the future and I will do my best to preserve peace," he noted.

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