Serbian Leader Says He’s ‘Obsessed’ by Kosovo

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic tells the UK Financial Times that the former province ‘obsesses’ him – and that he won’t turn into a Serbian version of Viktor Orban.
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: EPA-EFE/Robert Ghement

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has said that resolving the issue of the former province of Kosovo is his “obsession”, in a large feature-style interview with the London Financial Times.

“Without resolving that problem, everything I have achieved so far won’t be sustainable. The first crisis will kill us,” Vucic said in the interview published on Tuesday.

The Serbian leader did not detail how he wanted the problem solved but reiterated his strongly held belief that Serbia’s future lies in the EU.

Responding to concerns that Serbia inside the EU would be “another Hungary”, and that he could turn into another Viktor Orban – who complied with the EU’s rules to gain membership only to attack it from within – Vucic robustly dismissed the potential parallel as “99 per cent crap”.

He rejected the notion also that he could become a fifth column for [Vladimir] Putin in Europe, saying he had always told the Russian President that “Serbia remains on its EU path”.

The newspaper noted that Serbia is coming under growing pressure from the EU to define what kind of solution it seeks with Kosovo, adding that the West sees Serbian talk of a partition “as a non-starter”, as it would “open a Pandora’s box of border disputes within the region”.

At the same time, the newspaper said, any form of recognition of Kosovo would be a hard sell in Serbia, and would certainly draw furious opposition from the influential Serbian Orthodox Church whose Patriarch, Irinej, told the FT in the same article that while Americans and Europeans “want to take Kosovo from us… we are not going to give away Kosovo at any price. We are European. We favour joining the EU but not if Kosovo is the price.”