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EU warns Serbia, Kosovo against opening embassies in Jerusalem


GERMAN FOREIGN Minister Heiko Maas (right) takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union from Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman during a symbolic handover in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin last week.  (photo credit: HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS)
GERMAN FOREIGN Minister Heiko Maas (right) takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union from Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman during a symbolic handover in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin last week.
(photo credit: HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/REUTERS)

As a country already in talks to join the EU, Serbia specifically is “expected to align progressively” with EU foreign policy positions, he added.

Opening embassies in Jerusalem runs counter to Brussels’ expectations for Kosovo and Serbia, which seek to join the European Union, EU External Affairs Spokesman Peter Stano warned on Monday.
“Any steps that could call into question the EU’s common position on Jerusalem are a matter of serious concern and regret,” Stano said.
The comments come days after Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed an economic agreement in the White House. The deal included full normalization of ties between Israel and the Muslim-majority Kosovo, along with both countries opening embassies in Jerusalem.
Stano 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."

As a country already in talks to join the EU, Serbia specifically is “expected to align progressively” with EU foreign policy positions, he added.
Serbia has been in the process of accession to the EU since 2009 and is not expected to complete negotiations on the matter until 2025. Its non-recognition of Kosovo, which officially remains Serbia's policy even after the agreement, has been a major obstacle to joining the EU, though five member states to not recognize Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008, either.
An EU source said Serbia is also not in alignment with Brussels' policies towards Russia, and that will likely be a greater challenge to its accession than its positions on Israel.
Kosovo is one of six Western Balkan countries the EU recognized in 2018 as a candidate for accession.
The EU was not informed in advance that Jerusalem and ties with Israel would be part of the Kosovo-Serbia agreement, Stano said.
A journalist asked if the sides were aware of what they had signs, likely in light of video showing Vučić looking confused and flipping through the pages of the agreement as US President Donald Trump mentioned both countries would open embassies in Jerusalem.
“It’s a good question for them,” Stano said.
Stano reiterated the EU policy, that it favors a negotiated two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, which would include Jerusalem as one of its final status issues.
“A way must be found through negotiations for Jerusalem to be capital of both states, Israel and Palestine,” he said.
The US and Guatemala are currently the only countries with embassies to Israel in Jerusalem, while the 87 others are in the Tel Aviv area.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the agreements with Serbia and Kosovo on Friday, pointing out that Kosovo will be the first Muslim-majority country to open an embassy in Jerusalem.
"The circle of peace and recognition of Israel is expanding with more countries expected to join,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister also expressed hope that more European countries will move their embassies to Jerusalem.
Israel did not recognize Kosovo in the past 12 years, citing Serbia's opposition. The was partly due to avoiding setting a precedent for recognition of a Palestinian state.
Also over the weekend, Malawian president promised to open an embassy in Jerusalem. Israel and Malawi have diplomatic ties but not embassies. The Malawian embassy would be the first of an African country in Jerusalem.
Honduras has also said it would open an embassy in Jerusalem.



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