Scholz of Germany urges Serbia and Kosovo to engage in dialogue

PRISTINA (Kosovo) -- On Friday, Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, asked Serbia and Kosovo for a clear commitment towards a long-standing political solution to their dispute over Kosovo's independence.

Scholz of Germany urges Serbia and Kosovo to engage in dialogue

PRISTINA (Kosovo) -- On Friday, Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, asked Serbia and Kosovo for a clear commitment towards a long-standing political solution to their dispute over Kosovo's independence.

The European Union initiated normalization talks 11 years ago, but they had little effect. Tensions between former war foes still exist. Scholz was in Kosovo to begin a multi-nation tour in the Western Balkans. He said that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has made stability in the region even more important.

Scholz stated that "in times like these, the value and importance of peace and security are made clear anew for us." He spoke at a Pristina news conference.

The chancellor requested that the governments of Serbia and Kosovo make a commitment to the EU-facilitated dialog.

Scholz stated in Pristina (Kosovo's capital) that "it is clear that an accord must eventually also clarify the question of Kosovo recognition, because it's not possible that two countries who don't recognise each other become EU members."

Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared independence in 2008. This was ten years after the brutal 1998-1999 war between Serb forces and separatist ethnic Albanian rebels. After a NATO air campaign lasting 78 days drove Serb troops from Kosovo, a peacekeeping force was sent in to replace them.

While most Western countries have recognized Kosovo's sovereignty as their own, Serbia and its allies Russia or China don't.

The six countries of the Western Balkan are at different stages in their EU membership aspirations. Serbia and Montenegro are now in full negotiation, but Albania and North Macedonia still have to wait for the EU to launch their talks.

Kosovo and Bosnia are still in the initial stages of the process.

Albin Kurti, Kosovo's Prime Minster, stated that the country would apply to EU for candidacy status. This is what Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia did. Kurti called joining the EU "the only way forward"

Scholz gave praise to Kosovo for its support of EU sanctions against Russia in the wake of the invasion by Ukraine and called the government in Pristina a "reliable partner".

He reminded the Serbian government of the importance of adhering to EU laws and customs if it wants to be an EU member. Serbia is not a member of the EU sanctions against Russia, but considers Moscow to be a close ally. Serbia is heavily dependent on Russian energy.

Scholz plans to also visit Serbia, Greece and North Macedonia on his Balkans tour.

Tallinn: Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer stressed Friday that the west Balkan countries who are interested in EU membership should not be forgotten, as Ukraine knocks on the EU door.

We must give these countries the same chance that Ukraine. These states need it just as urgently, and have been waiting decades in some cases," Nehammer stated. "We cannot ignore the west Balkan countries, but also Moldova.

Since the beginning of the conflict in February, the 27 EU member nations have unified in supporting Ukraine's resistance against Russia's invasion. They also adopted unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow. At the end of June, European leaders will be considering Ukraine's application for EU candidate status.

Nehammer met with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas in Estonia's capital.

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Semini reported from Tirana in Albania, Jan M. Olsen, Geir Moulson, and Philip-Moritz Jenne, all of which contributed to this report.

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Follow AP's coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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Follow Llazar Semini at https://twitter.com/lsemini

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