EU warns Kosovo, Serbia over Jerusalem al-Quds embassy move
The European Union has warned Serbia and Kosovo over their recent decision to relocate their embassies in the occupied Palestinian territories from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, stressing that the move could undermine the two countries’ hopes to join the bloc.
“There is no EU member state with an embassy in Jerusalem [al-Quds],” the spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Peter Stano said at a news conference in the Belgian capital of Brussels on Monday.
“Any diplomatic steps that could call into question the EU’s common position on Jerusalem [al-Quds] are a matter of serious concern and regret.”
The EU is still committed to the so-called “two-state solution” to end the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said, adding that the bloc expects prospective members, specifically Serbia, to “align progressively” with its foreign policy positions.
Stano further said that “since Kosovo and Serbia identified EU accession or EU integration as their strategic priority, the EU expects both to act in line with this commitment, so the European perspective is not undermined.”
The development comes as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti are to meet in Brussels for a second round of EU-brokered face-to-face talks to resolve disputes two decades after they went through a bloody war.
The two sides have been in EU-led talks for a decade to normalize their relationship, but little progress has been made.
Relations between Kosovo and Serbia took a turn for the worse when negotiations over an exchange of territory and border changes collapsed in 2018.
In an unexpected move on Friday, US President Donald Trump announced that Washington had brokered an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo to normalize economic ties.
The announcement surprised the Europeans, who are leading complex talks between the two countries on improving their long-strained relations.
From the deal, however, came out two unexpected decisions too. Serbia said that it would relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, some three years after Washington, in a highly provocative move, recognized the city as Israel’s “capital.”
Majority-Muslim Kosovo, for its part, vowed that it would recognize the occupying regime, adding that it would also set up its diplomatic mission in Jerusalem al-Quds after earning Israel’s recognition.
The move comes as Kosovo desperately seeks to further legitimize its declaration of independence and statehood.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, after fighting a war in 1998-1999 that ended with a NATO intervention. Serbia, which refuses to accept its former southern province as an independent state, has so far blocked it from joining the United Nations and other international bodies.
Kosovo is, however, recognized by many countries as an independent state, including the United States and most members of the EU.
Last month, the US president also brokered an agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that would lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two sides.
The highly controversial deal between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv has been widely condemned across the occupied Palestinian territories and the Muslim world.
The deal comes in the face of United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, adopted on August 20, 1980, which prohibits countries from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem al-Quds.